Texas girl mistakenly deported to Colombia reunited with family
A Texas teenager deported to Colombia last year after claiming to be an illegal immigrant was reunited with family in Dallas on Friday.
The 15-year-old girl was the last person off the plane Friday evening, according to CNN's Jason Morris, who was on the flight.
Upon her arrival at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Jakadrien Lorece Turner was flanked by her mother, grandmother and law enforcement officers, according to the Associated Press.
"She's happy to be home," the family's attorney, Ray Jackson, told the AP, adding that the family would not be issuing any statements Friday night.
Jackson's staff did not return phone calls or email late Friday seeking further comment.
He told the AP that Jakadrien's family was "ecstatic" to have her back in Texas and they planned to "do what we can to make sure she gets back to a normal life."
Jakadrien's family has said she ran away in November 2010 and was arrested by Houston police on April 2, 2011, on suspicion of misdemeanor theft. At the time, she claimed to be Tika Lanay Cortez, a Colombian woman born in 1990--an identity that immigration officials now say was fabricated.
Houston police said in a statement that after a database showed she was not wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she was turned over to the Harris County jail and booked on the theft charge.
An ICE official told The Times that the teen claimed to be Cortez throughout the criminal proceedings in Houston and the ensuing deportation, in which an immigration judge ultimately ordered her back to Colombia. Officials at the Colombian Consulate in Houston interviewed her and issued her deportation documents, the ICE official said. It was unclear how that happened. Consulate officials did not return calls late Friday.
Officials at Colombia's Foreign Ministry have said they are investigating what sort of verification its consulate in Texas requested before giving the girl an expedited provisional passport as part of deportation proceedings, and how she was approved for training at a call center as part of the government's "Welcome Home" program.
Attorneys with the program made a sworn declaration in front of a notary pointing to "inexact information" that allowed her to receive work papers, the Foreign Ministry said.
"Those lawyers are no longer providing services to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the ministry said in a statement.
Jackson, the family's Dallas-based attorney, told CNN on Friday that they believe the girl's civil rights were violated when authorities allowed her to be deported.
"Somewhere the ball was dropped," Jackson said.
--Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston
Photo: Jakadrien Lorece Turner, 15, center, walks with her grandmother Lorene Turner, left, and mother Johnisa Turner, right, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Friday night. Credit: Mike Fuentes/Associated Press