Photograph via Flickr by :Dar.

The universe constantly presents us with unanswerable questions. What happens beyond the event horizon of a black hole? Was there a second gunman on that grassy knoll? Why was an African-American girl who speaks not a lick of Spanish mistaken for an illegal immigrant and deported to Colombia? Sadly, in the last case, the Houston police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are coming up short.

In 2010, a runaway teen from Dallas, currently only identified by her first name, Jakadrien, was apprehended by HPD for theft. As reported by WFAA, she gave a fake name, which unfortunately belonged to an illegal immigrant who had warrants out for her arrest. As a result, Jakadrien was fingerprinted and then deported to Colombia.

Look, work is hard, and we all make mistakes. I print spreadsheets out on 8X11 paper instead of 11X17 and sometimes, before sending someone all the way to Colombia, you could fail to check that a 14-year-old girl’s fingerprints match the identity she claims is hers, resulting in something that feels a lot like kidnapping.

But when your failure means someone else’s nightmare, we need a little more than a form public statement: “At the direction of [the Department of Homeland Security], ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case.” In the words of Rick Perry: oops.

After the U.S. Embassy alerted the Colombian government to the error, Jakadrien was placed in a Colombian detention center, where she remains, despite her family’s pleas for her release.

Rebecca Bates

Rebecca Bates is a senior editor at Sweet on Snapchat Discover and has written about culture, art, and books for Vice, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, The New Inquiry, NYLON, and elsewhere. She also coedits Powder Keg, a quarterly poetry magazine.

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