U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently investigating how a Texas-born teenager managed to convince authorities that she was a Columbian, 21-year old illegal immigrant, which led to her deportation. Happily Jakadrien Lorece Turner returned home on Friday night to her mother, grandmother and law enforcement officials waiting for her at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
In November 2010, Jakadrien, then 14-years old, ran away from home. Her grandfather had just died and her parents recently divorced. In April, 2011, she was arrested for a misdemeanor theft charge in Houston. While held in custody, Jakadrien told authorities and her appointed defense attorney that she was in the States illegally, that she was born in Columbia in 1990 and that her name was Tika Lanay Cortez.
U.S. Immigration Authorities stated they found no evidence that Jakadrien/Tika was not an illegal immigrant or that she was not who she said she was. There are conflicting reports regarding the identity of “Tika Lanay Cortez”. The Associated Press states that Houston police ran a check on the name and found no warrants for “Cortez’s” arrest on ICE databases. However, WFAA-News 8 in Dallas reported that the Columbian pseudonym did pop up as a wanted illegal immigrant. The mysterious nature of the case is furthered by the fact that Jakadrien has no known ties to Columbia, nor did she speak fluent Spanish.
Nonetheless, the minor was given temporary citizenship to the South American country and enrolled in a “Welcome Home” program where she was set up with employment and a psychological evaluation.
Lorene Turner spent a year scouring the Internet from her Dallas home after her granddaughter ran away. In November 2011, she finally found a Facebook page with a profile picture of Jakadrien. The profile had yet another name (Tika Solo Toolonq) and stated she was living in Bogota, working at a call center and that one of co-workers was her boyfriend. Turner was aided by Dallas police and Urban Search and Rescue to track her granddaughter down. The American Embassy in Columbia was finally contacted and local police found Jakadrien. She was placed in a detention center until she flew home yesterday.
While Jakadrien’s family wonders why an African American young girl was mistakened for a Columbian adult, an immigration attorney Albert Armendariz comments: “If she looked like an adult, and she told them she was a 21-year-old Colombian citizen, and she didn’t show up in their databases, this was inevitable.”