The story of Jakadrien Turner is the real story of the U.S. immigration system. Immigration has become an inhumane program that disregards the law and the dignity of the people involved. In an effort to meet a congressionally mandated quota, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) actually deported a 15 year old American citizen. Jakadrien Turner is just a high profile example of the way poor and otherwise vulnerable people are treated in this system. TransAfrica ranks present U.S. immigration policy among the most egregious human rights violations in the world. In an effort to limit who lives in this country, ICE, Homeland Security, Congress and several Administrations, trample on the Constitutional rights of American citizens and the dignity of immigrants from around the world. Jakadrien is just one story of the horrific errors that are made in the rush to deportation.
Under no circumstances should Americans be deported. The ACLU and other constitutional and human rights organizations have documented numerous cases of the deportation of American citizens.
Like most of the people who are deported from the US, Jakadrien Turner has a compelling back story that explains why she was in the deportation process. As a 14 year old runaway in Dallas she was lured to Houston by an adult man. There she was beaten and forced into a life on the street. It is reported that when Jakadrien was caught shoplifting, Houston police failed to properly process her through the system. She was subsequently identified as an adult Colombian national, handcuffed, shackled and deported. Seven months passed before the U.S. government acknowledged the mistake. Six additional weeks passed before she was returned to her family. TransAfrica played a key role in obtaining her freedom.
Jakadrien’s story begs the questions: Why is the US so eager to deport the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to live free? Why is the U.S. so willing to disregard its own laws and constitutional protections in order to rid its borders of people who come simply to seek a better life?
Despite the promise to be a beacon of human rights and dignity, our apathy has allowed immigration policies to threaten basic standards of decency and fairness.
Our immigration policies represent the image of the United States around the world. America’s willingness to keep its Constitutional promises must be reflected in its immigration policies.
As citizens we can no longer stand quietly by and let poor, disenfranchised people, both American citizens and immigrants, be shackled and driven from our shores. This is one of the most important issues facing us today. Stand up and get involved.