Yet Another Reminder of How Broken the Immigration System in the United States Is

There are many problems with how immigration “services” operate in the United States, but this story gets at a number of them:

An African-American teen from Dallas who has been missing since 2010 was found to have been wrongfully deported to Colombia, area outlet News 8 reports. Jakadrien Turner was mistakenly deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) in April of 2011 after being arrested as a teen runaway.

The fact that a 15-year-old who speaks no Spanish could accidentally give a false name that matched that of an illegal immigrant and be shipped out of the country only on that coincidence just reinforces how broken the process of treating immigrants has become (to say nothing of the treatment of troubled youth in the United States. That there apparently was no effort to even allow the youth to prove that she was not Colombian is frustrating enough, and U.S. citizen or undocumented immigrant, it’s not even clear in the article if, as a minor, the youth was given legal counsel before being shipped out of her native country. Even if the burden of proof rested on her (and, based on the legal system in the U.S., it shouldn’t), though the government’s efforts to let her prove her case seem flimsy at best. It’s also baffling as to why the Colombian government refuses to release the girl to her family, and hopefully the story becoming public will force the U.S. and the Colombian government to act in this case. But clearly, broader, systemic reforms are desperately needed so that immigrants, illegal or legal, are treated with the respect that human beings deserve.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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