Update, Friday, 7:48 a.m.: CNN reports that Turner will be handed over to U.S. diplomatic officials Friday.
News agencies are reporting today that a 14-year-old American runaway was mistakenly deported to Colombia by authorities in Texas in May because she gave a fake name that accidentally matched that of another illegal alien.
U.S. Immigration and Customs, however, says that’s not true. An agency spokeswoman told The Washington Post that Jakadrien Turner was deported because she assumed the false identity of a Colombian woman. Turner is now 15 and possibly being held in a detention center in Colombia.
The agency says Turner first assumed the identity, calling herself Tika Lanay Cortez, when she was arrested on state charges for theft by the Houston Police Department. Turner told police that she was an adult from Colombia with no legal status in the United States, and went through an entire trial, was charged, convicted and served time under the name Tika Lanay Cortez. Records from court indicated that it convicted a 21-year-old woman from Columbia. Her defense attorney believed that to be true as well.
Upon her conviction, ICE says Turner was referred to them, where she continued to maintain a false identity during immigration court proceedings. The agency did fingerprints and record checks to verify that the woman was Tika Lanay Cortez, and nothing came up to invalidate her claim. When she went before an immigration lawyer, Turner continued to say she was a Colombia woman. She was interviewed at the Colombian consulate, where she also kept up the false identity.
Turner was ultimately ordered removed from the United States by a Department of Justice immigration judge last year.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Turner is being held in a detention facility in Colombia. ICE says they are not able to confirm whether that was true, but said in a statement that it is “fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case.”
Her grandmother, who is responsible for sparking the investigation after tracking Turner down on social media, told the Dallas Morning News: “How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything? ... I need help and I need a prayer.”
Turner created the Facebook page in May using the name “Tika SoloToolong (Tika Confero),” updated her current city to Bogota, Colombia, and began posting photos of herself and updates to the page. On Twitter, she created the account under the name “Tika Cortes.”
In her first Facebook post, Turner refers to her deportation, writing: “bored ... just got this facebook stuff ... pics coming soon, back home in Columbia ... got deported ... really missed everyone in Houston.”
Though Turner wrote on her Facebook page of wanting to move to Mexico to eventually return to Houston, it is unclear whether Turner made any actual attempts to come back to the United States. At one point, she writes that she was working to get a Colombian identification card.
She also referenced her jail time in Texas, and wrote that she was not happy in Colombia: “Well was in jail, now I’m free man an still feel like I’m loke [locked] up in this country.”
Many times, Turner asserted on her page that she was Colombian, saying in one post that she was born in Colombia, raised in Barbados, grew up in New Orleans and then lived in Dallas and Houston.
Elsewhere, Turner wrote she was depressed and lonely in Bogota, sometimes saying she longed to go back to Houston, and at other times saying she belonged in Colombia because it was her home.
While in Colombia, Turner worked as a maid and did other odd jobs that required an English speaker. She did not speak Spanish when she arrived but wrote on her Facebook that she was going to take Spanish lessons.
Her last update on Twitter, on Nov. 3, read: “Listening The Zone .... The Weekend Version, and right now I am in Zone to [expletive] somebody up!!!!!”
Her last Facebook post, on Nov. 15, stated that she had started a relationship with an ex-boyfriend. The man posted a few days later on her wall that he loved her and was the father of her child. CNN reports that Turner is pregnant.
ICE said in a statement released to The Post that “historically, there have been instances where ICE has seen cases of individuals providing inaccurate information regarding who they are and their immigration status.” ICE said individuals provide inaccurate information at times “for ulterior motives.”
It is unclear what Turner’s motive might be.