ICE Releases Flight Attendant and DACA Recipient Held for 6 Weeks

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For 28-year-old Mesa Airlines flight attendant Selene Saavedra Roman, a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the current chapter of her personal nightmare is over. But her future status in the United States remains a question.


Saavedra Roman, who came to the U.S. with her parents from Peru when she was 3, was detained while working a return flight from Mexico after being reassured by her employers that traveling abroad wouldn’t be an issue. As it turned out, it was a problem because two years ago, the Trump administration reversed the ability of DACA recipients to leave the U.S.

After six weeks of being held in immigration detention in Conroe, Texas, Saavedra Roman was finally released on Friday evening following a growing public campaign that advocated for her freedom and included support from Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, and other prominent public figures.

According to The Washington Post and The Guardian, Saavedra Roman has lived in the U.S. for 25 years, growing up in Dallas. She graduated from Texas A&M in 2014, where she met her now-husband, a U.S. citizen. The couple has been working to complete the process for Saavedra Roman to obtain permanent status. She has no criminal record.

Nevertheless, she was detained on Feb. 12 after landing at the international airport in Houston. She was allowed one visit per week with her husband through “two inches of glass,” according to The Guardian. Her husband, David Watkins, said she suffered anxiety and depression during the ordeal, and likely will have post-traumatic stress disorder “for a long, long time,” the Post reported.

According to her attorney, immigration officials had tried to revoke her DACA status.


Per The Guardian:

In a statement, the Mesa Airlines chairman and chief executive, Jonathan Ornstein, said: “We are deeply sorry Selene and her husband have had to endure this situation. 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.

“We are doing everything in our power to ask the administration to … drop all charges stemming from this horrible situation.”


After being released, Saavedra Roman said in a statement issued by her attorney that, “Being released is an indescribable feeling. I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go. 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.”

Clinton called her release “wonderful news.”

Saavedra Roman now must appear before an immigration judge in April, according to USA Today.

Weekend Editor, Splinter