Texan teen home after deportation 'goof'
A pregnant 15-year-old Texas girl mistakenly deported to Colombia in a bizarre mix-up has returned to the United States to be reunited with her family.
Jakadrien Turner from Dallas was deported in May to a country she had never seen, and whose language she did not speak, after she gave a false name and age when she was arrested for shoplifting in Houston.
Colombia's Foreign Ministry said US officials had provided identity documents proving that Turner is a US citizen, opening the way for her to be handed over to US Consular officials and flown home.
Before the youngster's return, her grandmother, Lorene Turner, said she wanted answers. "I don't understand how this could happen. Someone made a goof, they goofed up," she said.
She also said her granddaughter was now pregnant.
The girl was a 14-year-old runaway from the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff when she was arrested in April for misdemeanor theft, according to the Houston Police Department.
"The female told the arresting officers she was a native of Colombia and that her name was Tika Lanay Cortez, born March 24th, 1990," Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Jr. said .
Mr McClelland said jail personnel followed procedure by fingerprinting a detainee they believed was an adult foreign national and running a check against federal immigration databases under the Secure Communities program set up to deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
"The Secure Communities database provided no prior arrest history, no wanted status, or alternative identification for the prisoner," he said.
At that point, police assumed she was a 21-year-old criminal from Colombia, and deportation proceedings began. Two months later, the girl from Texas who does not speak Spanish found herself in South America, where she was issued a Colombian passport based on the information provided by US officials.
The Colombian ministry said the girl was referred to a program for repatriated Colombians established by the City of Bogota and the International Organization for Migration.
"We gave her shelter, counseling, and initiated a process of inclusion in a call center job given the information that she was older," the statement said.
Lorene Turner said the family, working with police and with Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, located her in Colombia late last year, mainly by finding a Facebook page she created there. The Colombian Foreign Ministry said it then contacted the US Embassy.
"I am looking into the specific breakdowns in the process that led to Ms Turner's deportation," Mr Johnson said in a statement on Friday.
The Colombian government is also investigating how it issued a passport to an American citizen, based on what the ministry said were "inaccurate and unrealistic" statements.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok said the agency takes the case very seriously, and is 'fully and immediately investigating the matter."
"After being arrested on state charges for theft, the minor provided a false identity," Mr Rusnok said. "She maintained this false identity throughout her local criminal proceedings in Texas where she was represented by a defense attorney, and ultimately convicted by the state criminal court. At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false."
New measures are being put into place "to ensure that individuals being held by state or local law enforcement on immigration detainers are properly notified about thei potential removal from the country," Mr Rusnok said.
Lorene Turner said she is not satisfied. "There has to be adults involved," she said. "No fourteen-year-old can change their name and get to Colombia."
She ran away from home.
Start shoplifting to survive.
Gave a fake Colombian name and age.
Police deported her "back" to Colombia.
Once there, she was given a passport, and a job!
When she was found and brought home, she was pregnant!