A troubled American teenager runs away from home and gets in trouble with the law. She gives the police a phoney name. Then she gets deported. What?
15-year-old Jakadrien Turner went missing from her Dallas, Texas home in November of 2010. Her grandfather had recently died and her parents were going through a divorce, and Jakadrien was not dealing well with the fallout. She ran away. She was arrested in Houston in April of 2011 for theft. Instead of giving her real name, however, she gave authorities a false one — Tika Lanay Cortez — and stuck to it. She told the authorities she was 21 and from Colombia. The authorites believed her, despite the fact that she didn’t speak a word of Spanish. She convinced both US Immigration and, incredibly, the Colombian authorities that she was Colombian Tika Cortez and allowed herself to be convicted of theft — and deported. She was given papers upon arrival in Colombia and, amazingly, set up a new life.
Her grandmother Lorene Turner, however, never gave up on finding her, and prowled Facebook relentlessly until she came upon the profile for one Tika SoloToolonq — who wore her granddaughter Jakadrien’s face. Tika SoloToolonq lived in Bogota, held various jobs — and was pregnant.
Mrs Turner contacted the US government to alert them that it appeared that her 15-year-old American granddaughter was living in Bogota. The US Government in turn contacted Colombian authorities and requested they question the girl. Tika, or Jakadrien, was immediately taken into custody – a month ago — and has been in a detention center ever since. Her mother now says that the girl is returning to the US this evening, where she is bound to face many questions — and also a huge hug from her relieved grandmother.
This case is exceptionally troubling. Aside from the fact that Jakadrien must be one heck of a stellar actress, it is baffling to wonder how American authorities could confuse an African-American teenager for a native Colombian, especially when she didn’t speak Spanish. Worse, how could Colombian officials do the same? What does it say about exactly how well Immigration authorities are investigating supposed “illegals”? And most troubling, what does it say about how seriously America takes missing children cases, especially when the child isn’t white, blonde or from an affluent family?
Photo Credit: TinyTall on Flickr