DALLAS (AP) - A Texas teenager who was deported to Colombia after claiming to be an illegal immigrant was back in the United States on Friday and at the center of an international mystery over how a minor could be sent to a country where she is not a citizen.
The 15-year-old's family has questioned why U.S. officials didn't do more to verify her identity and say she is not fluent in Spanish and had no ties to Colombia. While many facts of the case involving Jakadrien Lorece Turner remain unclear, U.S. and Colombian officials have pointed fingers over who is responsible.
Immigration experts say that while cases of mistaken identity are rare, people can slip through the cracks, especially if they don't have legal help or family members working on their behalf. But they say U.S. immigration authorities had the responsibility to determine if a person is a citizen.
"Often in these situations they have these group hearings where they tell everybody you're going to be deported," said Jacqueline Stevens, a political science professor at Northwestern University, who is an expert on immigration issues. "Everything is really quick, even if you understand English you wouldn't understand what is going on. If she were in that situation as a 14-year-old she would be herded through like cattle and not have a chance to talk to the judge about her situation."
Jakadrien's mother, Johnisa Turner said she has "a gazillion questions" for Jakadrien. Federal and local officials may have plenty, as well.