The family of a Dallas teenager who ran away from home more than a year ago was shocked to find out that their 15-year-old little girl had been deported to Columbia. U.S. authorities mistakenly deported Jakadrien Turner after she gave them a fake name during an arrest for shoplifting in a local mall. According to CNN the teen told authorities that her name was Tika Cortez and she was 21-years-old.
The girl’s family has been looking for her for over a year and even used Facebook to track her down. At first they found out that Jakadrien had been living in Houston, Texas and working in a night club. They contacted authorities in that area who offered no assistance in returning her to the family.
After trying to get the teenager to be returned from Houston the family learned that she was in Columbia partying and smoking marijuana. It was also revealed that the teenager who does not even speak Spanish (Columbia’s native language) is now pregnant.
Pictures on her Facebook page revealed that she was living in Columbia, partying and smoking marijuana. Once they found out where she was it was later revealed that the teenager is now pregnant.
No one in the family knows how Jakadrien got to Columbia or how long she has been there. According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency she was taken to Columbia after her arrest because she gave them the false identity. The authorities are standing by the fact that they believed her because according to them she never changed her story during the criminal case and the deportation process even though they took her fingerprints to verify her identity.
According to Jakadrien’s family she began having problems in school and ran away two weeks prior to going missing in the Fall of 2010. Also, she had recently lost her grandfather who died before she ran away.
According to her grandmother, the family exhausted all resources when trying to get her to come back . The family says they contacted the police, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Dallas transportation authority and no one was able to help them bring Jakadrien home.
Now that the media has gotten involved the Columbian foreign ministry has agreed to have the teenager returned to her family in Dallas on Friday.
When I first began reading about this story I was a bit confused. How could a teenager who is a legal American citizen be “mistakenly” deported to another country? Was she on a boat using the bathroom and forgot to come out before the boat sailed out to sea? Did she get lost on a vacation and not know how to find her way home? Was she in a shelter of some sort that housed illegal immigrants and some how got mistaken for someone that she looked like. All of these scenarios ran through my mind as I scrolled pass the headlines on several websites that posted the story.
Now that I have finally read the story I have a clearer understanding of what is going on. Even though every detail about what happened isn’t clear I think one thing is for sure. The system that was designed to protect and keep our children safe from harm has failed us. Even though she gave them an alias, I think at some point it had to be obvious that she wasn’t a native of Columbia if she couldn’t speak Spanish. Not only that, but once her finger prints came back it should have been revealed that she wasn’t who she said she was.
This is just another example of why as fathers we have to keep a watchful eye on our children. There won’t always be people out there to look out for our children when they leave our eye sight. When you have teenagers you have to make sure that you know every single thing that your child is involved in. The video doesn’t mention anything about her father being present in her life or active in the search for her, so I’m not too sure where he is. But it does mention that her grades dropped, and her behavior started to change when her grandfather passed away. I’m sure that losing that male figure had something to do with why she felt the need to rebel. It’s possible that I wouldn’t even be typing this story if this young lady had a consistently positive male father figure in her life.
I don’t think all of the blame can be laid on one person or organization. I think the focus now has to be on restoring this child’s relationship with her family once she returns home. She has to know that her family loves her and cares for her. Some sort of counseling needs to be put in place to help with the healing process. As a parent I could not fathom my child being missing for over a year and discovering that she was in another country getting ready to give birth. There isn’t a handbook that has been written that can prepare anyone for that. The resolution to this problem starts as soon as she gets off of the plane and will have to continue for a very long time.
If you have a child who you think is considering running away or know of someone who has run away you may want to visit www.1800runaway.org/. There are plenty of resources out there, and as parents it is our responsibility to make sure that we are doing our part to keep our children safe and AT HOME!