Flight Attendant Free After Being Detained By ICE While On The Job
By Victoria M. Walker
A Mesa Airlines flight attendant who received worldwide attention after being arrested while returning to the United States is out of a detention facility in Texas, according to The Points Guy blog, which first reported the story.
Selene Saavedra Roman was arrested and detained upon returning to Houston on a flight from Mexico on Feb. 12. She explained to Mesa that she didn’t want to fly on routes outside of the U.S. but, she says Mesa told her she was in the clear. Her husband told TPG that she worked the shift because she was still in a probationary period and didn’t want to get fired.
“She should be okay because it’s part of DACA as long as it is not expiring,” a supervisor at Mesa wrote in an email that was received by TPG.
Saavedra Roman, who came to the U.S. when she was three, is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which offers undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and work authorization. Saavedra Roman, who was held in detention for six weeks, pays taxes and holds a social security card. Saavedra Roman is a Texas A&M graduate and married to a U.S. citizen.
Reaction to the arrest was swift. Presidential candidates Julián Castro and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted about the case. “Heartbreaking stories like Selene’s underscore the cruelty of the Trump immigration agenda,” Castro tweeted.
Even former secretary of state Hillary Clinton weighed in.
Saavedra Roman was released on March 22, but her saga isn’t over yet. TPG reported that her attorney says that ICE has “actively pushed” to revoke the woman’s status. Her hearing is scheduled for April 4.
“On Feb. 12, Peruvian national Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, applied for admission to the United States without valid entry documentation. She was taken into custody by US Customs and Border Protection officers and processed as a refused crewmember,” ICE told TPG in an emailed statement.
Mesa Airlines’ chairman, apologized to Saavedra Roman and said he was working with U.S. authorities to reach a resolution.
“It is patently unfair for someone to be detained for six weeks over something that is nothing more than an administrative error and a misunderstanding,” chairman Jonathan Ornstein told the Washington Post.
While President Trump has said he wants a solution for DACA recipients, his administration has taken a hardline approach to legal and illegal forms of immigration to the U.S.
In January, he proposed extending DACA protections in exchange for funding for a wall along the southern border though he later walked back those comments in a Politico interview.
For now, Saavedra Roman is glad to be back with her loved ones.
“I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go,” Saavedra Roman said in a statement. “I am thankful and grateful for the amazing people that came to fight for me, and it fills my heart. Thank you to everyone that has supported. I am just so happy to have my freedom back.”
Victoria M. Walker
Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.