In an article this morning, it appears Jakadrien Turner actually did have a hearing before an Immigration Judge. All along, the media has been reporting that she was immediately deported when turned over to ICE. If she had a hearing before an Immigration Judge, the stakes just got higher. That means multiple layers of checks and balances failed. When placing a person into removal proceedings, DHS is supposed to check the FBI’s IAFIS database, which checks the individuals fingerprints against those in the database. They also can access the NCIC database to cross check the fingerprints with those of known criminal suspects. The DHS also accesses the US VISIT database, which typically cross checks the person’s fingerprints but also includes a photograph if the person has previously been encountered by immigration. Once the DHS placed her into proceedings, and Immigration Judge was bound to verify her identity and, this is important, the IJ is explicitly not allowed to accept an admission of removability from a child. 8 CFR 1240.10(c). Once she was ordered removed, the DHS was responsible for communicating with the Colombian embassy to obtain a travel document, something the anonymous source in this morning’s article says they did.
U.S. officials need to do better.”She looks like a kid, she acts like a kid. How could they think she wasn’t a kid?”
Sadly, there is no law against deporting kids – the DHS does it every day (that’s why there is a rule saying an IJ is not allowed to accept an admission of removability from a child). But there should be. And this case is beginning to prove why.