An African-American teen from Dallas who has been missing since 2010 was found to have been wrongfully deported to Colombia, area outlet News 8 reports. Jakadrien Turner was mistakenly deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) in April of 2011 after being arrested as a teen runaway.
The troubled youth had fled her family at the age of 14 under duress caused by the death of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce. Having made her way to Houston, Jakadrien was brought into police custody for theft, where she gave a fake name. That name coincidentally belonged to a Colombian illegal immigrant who had warrants out for her arrest.
Jakadrien’s grandmother, Lorene Turner, had been looking for her granddaughter ever since she left the family fold, seemingly having vanished into thin air. Staying up many late nights for months searching on Facebook, Turner credits messages on the social network for aiding her discovery of her granddaughter’s location. She also received help from Dallas police.
Turner alerted U.S. authorities after discovering that Jakadrien had been working as a cleaner in Colombia. The Colombian government had given her a work card upon her arrival there.
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After being informed by American authorities, Colombian officials took Jakadrien into custody where she has been waiting for a month in detention. It has also been discovered that the African-American teen is pregnant.
Jakadrien was deported to Colombia at the age of 15 by ICE after being fingerprinted, which should have clarified the girl’s true identity. How she, as an African-American speaking no Spanish, was able to be deported failing the confirmation of her foreign national status remains a matter for further ICE investigation.
The Colombian government has refused to release the girl to her family in the United States.
In a statement regarding this case of mistaken identity, ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale said:
ICE takes these allegations very seriously. At the direction of [the Department of Homeland Security], ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case.
ICE also noted that lying by foreign nationals to prevent deportation has been documented in some cases. For the moment, the agency is not answering further questions regarding Jakadrien’s deportation.
Lorene Turner remains hopeful that Jakadrien’s case will soon be resolved, as she told News 8, “I feel like she will come home. I just need help. And I need prayer.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb