Anyone who has followed FAIR’s activities over the past several years knows that we do not reflexively leap to the defense of the current leadership of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). To say that deporting people – even those for whom the law clearly prescribes deportation – is not ICE’s favorite activity would be a gross understatement. They bend over backwards, and then some, to avoid enforcing immigration laws against all but the worst offenders.
Yet, for all of ICE leadership’s efforts to ensure that no one is deported simply for being here illegally, the advocates for illegal aliens never seem to be satisfied. They repeatedly charge that ICE is separating families and practically ripping babies from their mothers’ arms. So when it was revealed that ICE had deported a U.S. citizens teenager, Jakedrien Lorece Turner, to Colombia, the illegal alien lobby was ready to pounce. So too, were many in the media, who reported the story before they had all the facts.
The fact is that ICE did deport a Ms. Turner and that she is a U.S. citizen. But her deportation was not a consequence of overzealous law enforcement on the part of ICE, but rather the result of lies spun by the 15-year-old who convinced law enforcement agencies from Texas to Bogota that she was in fact Tika Lanay Cortez, a 21-year-old illegal alien from Colombia.
Ms. Turner’s saga began when she was arrested by Houston police last year and charged with misdemeanor theft. For reasons known only to the girl, she concocted a story about being a Colombian illegal alien rather than face the consequences for her minor offense. (For the record, Ms. Turner is not from Colombia, nor are her parents, and she speaks about as much Spanish as Dora the Explorer.) Both the Houston Police and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department attempted to verify the information she provided, including fingerprints, against ICE databases. Of course, no matches were confirmed for the obvious reason that Tika Lanay Cortez was not in the system.
Sticking to her story, Texas authorities turned the girl over to ICE, which also found nothing to prove or disprove her claim that she was an illegal alien from Colombia. Following established procedure, ICE arranged for her to be interviewed by a Colombian consular officer and the Foreign Ministry issued her travel documents for her trip to Colombia. Not only that, the girl was granted Colombian citizenship upon her arrival in that country and placed in a program to reintegrate returning citizens into that society.
So the girl told a really tall tale. Along the way she fooled the Houston Police, the Harris County Sheriff’s office, the Colombian consulate, the Colombia Foreign Ministry, and government officials in that country who welcomed her “home” as a citizen.
So who’s to blame for this fiasco? ICE, of course. Just ask people like Sergio Lopez of Voto Latino, who took ICE to task in a column on Huffington Post website, who wrote that “ICE officials botched the procedure [and]failed to match her identity.”
Okay, it wasn’t ICE’s finest moment. It was more like a Hollywood farce. But it is not exactly the result of an agency bent on indiscriminately deporting people, unless like Voto Latino and others your goal is to see that no one is deported.