Teen Wrongly Deported to Colombia Reunites With Family

Associated Press
Associated Press

Texas teenager Jakadrien Turner is finally back home. After being wrongly deported in May 2011 to Colombia when she gave U.S. immigration officials a false name while under arrest, the 15-year-old is back with her family in Dallas.


"I'm sure the child is going to have a lot to go through over the coming days and months, and the family, too. We just want to welcome her home," Dana Ames of Urban Search and Rescue, which helped locate the child, told ABC News.

The case, which sparked a back-and-forth pointing of fingers between Colombia and the U.S., has become an international mystery.

Her saga began more than a year ago when she ran away from home. She was arrested in Houston in April 2011 for misdemeanor theft and claimed to be Tika Lanay Cortez, a Colombian woman born in 1990. That name was then checked to see if Cortez was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (She was.) ICE claims it followed all necessary protocol and found no evidence that the young girl wasn't who she said she was. The agency deported her to Colombia in May.

"Often in these situations, they have these group hearings where they tell everybody you're going to be deported," Jacqueline Stevens, a political science professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press. "Everything is really quick. Even if you understand English, you wouldn't understand what is going on. If she were in that situation as a 14-year-old, she would be herded through like cattle and not have a chance to talk to the judge about her situation."

Turner was given Colombian citizenship once she arrived, despite having no ties to the country or being able to speak the language. She was enrolled in the country's "Welcome Home" program, which provided her with shelter, psychological assistance and a job at a call center.

Her family plans to file a civil rights lawsuit for the deportation. "We will make the people who are responsible pay for the civil rights violations that Jakadrien has had to go through," her mother, Johnisa Turner, told ABC News.


Read more at ABC News.

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