Jakadrien Turner was 14 years old in May 2010, when the U.S. government mistakenly deported her to Columbia, South America. Now 15, and reportedly pregnant, the teen arrived in Dallas on Jan. 6, and was reunited with her family.
The teen’s family has criticized the U.S. officials responsible for sending a minor child who does not speak Spanish to a Latin country without confirming her identity.
The part Jakadrien played in her deportation remains unclear. Officials report that the runaway was arrested in Houston and told police her name was Tika Lanay Cortez — the name of a 21-year-old Columbian citizen. A search of police records revealed no outstanding charges against Tika Cortez, and she was not wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Jakadrien was turned over to the Harris County jail and booked on the theft charge. Upon her release from jail she she was turned over to ICE.
U.S. immigration officials insist they followed procedure. They had no reason to believe the girl wasn’t a Colombian woman living illegally in the country.
An ICE official said the teen claimed to be Cortez throughout the criminal proceedings in Houston and during the deportation process. An immigration judge ultimately ordered her back to Colombia.
“Standard procedure before any deportation is to coordinate with the other country in order to establish that person is from there,” the ICE official said.
After reportedly being interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate, that country’s government issued documents allowing her to enter Colombia. She was granted Colombian citizenship upon arriving there.
According to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jakadrien was enrolled in the country’s “Welcome Home” program, given shelter, psychological assistance and a job at a call center.
Jakadrien’s family is baffled that a child who spoke no Spanish ended up in Colombia.
“She looks like a kid, she acts like a kid. How could they think she wasn’t a kid?” Lorene Turner asked.
It was Lorene Turner, reportedly scouring the Internet daily for clues of her granddaughter’s whereabouts, who discovered information that ultimately led to the girl’s return. Lorene found Jadadrian via Facebook, which the girl apparently had access to in Columbia.
Dallas Police detective C’mon (pronounced Simone) Wingo said the girl’s grandmother contacted her and asked police to investigate “kind of disturbing” messages posted on a Facebook account where Jakadrien goes by yet another name.
Ultimately, the girl was located in Bogota by the Dallas Police Department with help from Colombian and U.S. officials.
“She’s happy to be home,” the family’s attorney, Ray Jackson, said, adding that the family had no statement. He told reporters the family was “ecstatic” to have Jakadrien back home, and they plan to “make sure she gets back to a normal life.”