The Mother of Jakadrien Turner, the Oak Cliff Teen Deported to Colombia, is Suing the Feds
It was unusual when Jakadrien Turner's grades in high school began to falter after the death of her grandfather nearly two years ago. She was typically a good student and didn't look for trouble. But after her grandfather's death, she began acting out, according to legal documents, and in this period of misbehavior, she was lured from her home by a man who put her on a Greyhound bus to Houston. There, she was forced to both take and sell drugs.
Photo by Leslie Minora Jakadrien Turner (center) at DFW airport after returning from Colombia in January.
That was hardly the worst of what would spiral into a seven-month saga in Colombia, South America, where the Oak Cliff 15-year-old was wrongfully deported from Houston under a fake identity. A lawsuit filed Monday by her mother alleges that the federal government violated her constitutional rights and names officials including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. The suit outlines the narrative of her months away from home, providing little detail but much more than has been previously revealed.
Left without much recourse when she ran away, Jakadrien's mother, Johnisa Turner, reported her disappearance to police and listed her on the National Child Runaway list. Far from home, Jakadrien was physically and sexually abused, and made to "put herself at risk" with men twice her age.
In Houston, Jakadrien ran away from her captor, trying to find a way back to Dallas and worrying that her family would blame her if she was arrested. She dreaded her mother's anger and was consumed by guilt for what she had done, but she had to get home.
She needed money. At 14, she couldn't get a job, so she took to shoplifting. She was arrested in April of last year at a Houston mall. The arrest would make her situation intensely more complicated.
She feared law enforcement would somehow know about the drugs and the sex. They might even know her name. So she gave them a fake -- Tika Cortez, who happened to be a real person, a 22-year-old Columbian national, flagged by immigration officials. Jakadrien was arrested and went to court under her new name. She plead guilty, under the impression that the matter would quickly pass.
It did not. A week after her arrest, she faced a removal proceeding by ICE in Houston. She spoke no Spanish, knew nothing about the place Tika Cortez was from, yet remained in ICE custody for a month.
It's at this point that the lawsuit alleges Jakadrien's civil rights were violated when ICE failed to verify her identity, talk with family members, or double-check in any significant way that they had the right girl. Strikingly, the filings allege, "She told several ICE officials her real name and that she was from Dallas, Texas but ICE officials did not believe her."
Then, almost exactly one year ago, Jakadrien was shackled and transported in a van with other deportees and put on a plane to Bogota, Columbia. She knew no one there.
A stranger noticed her crying then realized she didn't speak the language. He guided her to Welcome Home, a government agency that helped her find shelter. She worked at a call center to pay for room and board. But she was removed from the home when her condition changed.
In September of last year, she became pregnant by a 29-year-old man. Her baby is due in July, her grandmother, Lorene Turner, told Unfair Park. Now, her grandmother prays that Jakadrien can find some sense of peace and normalcy, though she knows things will never again be fully normal. Lorene was critical in bringing her granddaughter back. She tracked her every move on Facebook, looking for hints at her whereabouts and whether she looked like she was happy or hurting.
In December, she realized Jakadrien was likely in Columbia, and contacted police. Media took hold of the story, and it wasn't long before Jakadrien walked through the international arrivals chute at DFW, accompanied by her grandmother, mother, and lawyers. She appeared exhausted but relieved as she walked to a waiting car; a slight baby bump was visible, and she was toting a book: What to Expect When You're Expecting.