U.S. Citizen is Accidentally Deported to Columbia, Spends Months in Jail
A bizarre immigration case emerged this week as a U.S. citizen who was
accidentally deported to Columbia by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
officials returned home after 6 months.
Texas teenager Jakadrien Lorece Turner ran away from home in 2010. Several months later Ms. Turner was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor theft in Houston. At that time she told local authorities her name was Ms. Tika Lanay Cortez, and insisted on her false identity. (For a more descriptive account please view the link below.) It is not clear to what extent, but she was committing the identity theft of a real life Columbian citizen who was born in 1990.
As Ms. Turner was transferred from local to federal officials her case got lost in the mix, and her insistence on the false identity resulted in her deportation to Columbia. Now she has returned, after spending an extended amount of time in a Columbian prison.
The legal question the article asks is whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had a responsibility to determine if a person is a citizen. In general, ICE has an obligation to determine the correct identity of a person in their custody. However, it is certainly quite rare for a U.S. Citizen to engage in purposeful action to deceive ICE in an effort to be deported to Columbia. Regardless, one would think that ICE officials should know she was not who she claimed to be since she did not even speak Spanish.
I think she thought she could get a free vacation to Columbia. Still, this is a very sad case, and the most important thing is that a runaway teenager has been found and will hopefully now have a support mechanism behind her (whether its family or appointed) so that she can turn her life around.