Rush to Misjudgment: ICE is Not Recklessly Deporting American Citizens

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

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.

Share.

About Author

avatar

Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

8 Comments

  1. avatar

    It seems rather obvious that the huge problem with illegal immigration is the increase in the American human population that feeds practically all other problems. If you are sincere about addressing the problems due to illegal and legal immigration why don’t you discuss, address the problem of overpopulation, and offer remedies to the U.S. government on stopping the destruction of our Country by overpopulating it!!! Illegal immigrants now account for approximately 35% of our population growth-help turn the faucet off!

    • avatar

      We do, Dan. One of FAIR’s core concerns is the impact of overpopulation. Since some 80% of U.S. population growth today is attributable to immigration and subsequent births to immigrants, instituting and enforcing rational immigration policies would be a good start.

  2. avatar

    Thank you, Mr. Mehlman, for this column, for putting this incident into perspective. As a former immigration officer (Border Patrol) I’d like to add one small point. When we point out ICE’s failure to deport illegal aliens, we should make it clear that it’s because of administration policies and ICE leadership. The “rank and file” workers would like to be allowed to do their jobs. The union which represents them has spoken out publicly about policies which prevent them from doing so. I’ve been involved with the immigration enforcement issue every since 1969. During that time, whenever the administration changed, immigration policies usually changed. The changes seldom resulted in better immigration enforcement. Workers at the various agencies that deal with immigration are just caught in the political winds and pay a price if they fail to “go along with the program”. If (not likely) we ever have an administration and Congress who are serious about immigration enforcement, the employees of the agencies charged with doing so are ready and willing to do their jobs.

    • avatar

      Wow!!! I find this whole story amazing. For all the screw ups by the respective agencies, (and it seems there were many), Didn’t anyone notice the girl SPOKE NO SPANISH!!!!!!! If indeed she was an illegal as she insisted to all the agencies and as the article suggests and I quote “(For the record, Ms. Turner is not from Colombia, nor are her parents, and she speaks about as much Spanish as Dora the Explorer.)” when she was interviewed by the Colombian Consulate and welcomed back to Colombia as a citizen, didn’t anyone find it strange they had to communicate with her in English. I guess its true…..Everyone rises to their on level of incompetence.

      • avatar

        “…..didn’t anyone find it strange they had to communicate with her in English. I guess its true…..Everyone rises to their on level of incompetence.”

        We have perhaps millions of children who were brought here by illegal aliens as infants before they even spoke a word, so the fact that she spoke no Spanish is not evidence of nationality.

        • avatar
          Charles L. Hart on

          If you read the entire article….. “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.” It does not say anything about being born here or brought here.