Yesterday, I couldn’t click on a Black news site or blog without hearing the story of how a 15-year-old Dallas teen, named Jakadrien Turner, missing since 2010, was accidentally deported to Colombia in April 2011 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Houston, coincidentally the city Turner was deported from, we have a big, big problem.
Somehow, I’ve read countless ugly comments about this situation, blaming the teen for getting herself into this mess, first by running away, then stealing, and then lying. I’ve found a widespread lack of empathy for this particular teen that isn’t given to say, a blonde who turns up missing on a high school trip after carousing with locals (i.e., the Natalee Holloway story.)
A little background: Turner ran away from her Dallas home. Somehow she made it almost 250 miles away to Houston, where she was arrested for theft. She gave an alias to police and the name was that of an illegal, 22-year old Colombian immigrant who had warrants out for her arrest. Despite being fingerprinted — a move that would have determined Turner was not the illegal immigrant — ICE officials sent a minor off to a foreign country.
Turner’s grandmother never stopped looking for her after her 2010 disappearance. In 2011, she found her granddaughter on Facebook where Turner said she was working as a domestic in Colombia. Turner gave her granny the address where she was and the grandmother gave the location to Dallas police, who turned it over to the U.S. authorities, who contacted the Colombian officials.
The teen, who is reportedly pregnant, was taken into custody a month ago, but the Colombian government has refused to release Turner to her family in the United States for unknown reasons. According to The Grio, the agency is not answering further questions regarding her deportation.
Her grandmother remains hopeful that Turner will make it back to her. “I feel like she will come home,” she told Dallas News 8, who broke the story. “I just need help. And I need prayer.”
The ICE has said it is “fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case.”
Let me keep it 100: The holes in this story are big enough to drive a clichéd Mack truck through. I stayed up until 3:30 AM researching for more information because I didn’t understand, among many things, how the teen had regular access to Facebook, and as I discovered, Twitter, but had failed to seek help on either platform.
There’s definitely something more up, but that in no way excuses Turner’s deportation. The ICE screwed up in a monumentally disastrous way, by sending a minor and American citizen to a foreign country. There is nothing that a 15-year-old teen, a child, could have done to warrant that.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk