The Associated Press reports that the troubled 15-year-old girl who was mistakenly deported to Columbia earlier this year was reunited with her mother and grandmother Friday night in Texas.
A somber Jakadrien emerged from the international gate at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport flanked by her grandmother Lorene Turner, left; her biological mother Johnisa Turner, right, and law enforcement officers.
“She’s happy to be home,” the family’s attorney, Ray Jackson, said, according to the AP. He adding that the family would not be issuing any statements Friday night.
He said the family was “ecstatic” to have Jakadrien back in Texas and they plan to “do what we can to make sure she gets back to a normal life.”
Jakadrien Turner, who is 5 months pregnant, left Bogota this morning, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, told reporters. Holguin said Jakadrien was living in a home for expectant mothers in Bogota, and she was not being held in a detention facility as was reported widely in the media.
Jakadrien was mistakenly deported to Columbia at age 14 when she gave Houston police a false identity after an arrest for shoplifting on April 2, 2011. The name she gave police, Tika Lanay Cortez, belonged to a Colombian woman who was in this country illegally.
Immigration experts say mistaken identity is rare in these cases, but people do slip through the cracks. Still, they question how immigration officials allowed a 14-year-old American girl to be deported to a foreign country.
“Often in these situations they have these group hearings where they tell everybody you’re going to be deported,” said Jacqueline Stevens, a political science professor at Northwestern University, in an interview with the AP.
Stevens, who is an expert on immigration issues, said “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.”
The AP reports that U.S. immigration officials insisted they “followed procedure and found nothing to indicate” that Jakadrien “wasn’t a Colombian woman living illegally in the country” — despite the fact that Jakadrien didn’t speak any Spanish.