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Texas Teenager Mistakenly Deported to Colombia

If you want to understand why the Obama Administration should have some concern about Latino voter turnout in 2012, look no further than this story.

(Lorene) Turner has been searching for (her granddaughter) Jakadrien since the fall of 2010, when she ran away from home. She was 14 years old and distraught over the loss of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce […]

Turner said with the help of Dallas Police, she found her granddaughter in the most unexpected place – Colombia.

Where she had mistakenly been deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011.

“They didn’t do their work,” Turner said. “How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?”

The authorities chalk it up to a case of mistaken identity. Jakadrien did run away to Houston, and she got arrested for petty theft. She provided a fake name to Houston police, and it matched an undocumented immigrant from Colombia. So ICE got involved and deported the girl.

But this is a massive error. ICE is supposed to base their deportations on fingerprint matches. In this case, they based it off this fake name. Jakadrien’s identity was never confirmed. She’s African-American, not Hispanic. She doesn’t even speak Spanish.

It’s amazing that this grandmother found Jakadrien, through Facebook, in Colombia. But this shows the danger of Secure Communities, the system that connects ICE with local law enforcement, as well as the zeal to deport.

And by the way, the story doesn’t yet have a happy ending. The Colombian government won’t release Jakadrien from the detention facility where she is being held.

ICE is “investigating” the incident. But the speed with which people are being deported simply invites tragedies like this. Secure Communities has swept up multiple innocent people, including Americans, into a Kafka-esque nightmare. All in the name of “looking tough” on immigration.

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David Dayen

David Dayen