Flight Attendant Detained By ICE For Six Weeks Despite Her DACA Status
"Being released is an incredible feeling," she said.
March 26, 2019 at 3:05 pm
A Texas flight attendant and DACA recipient was released from ICE custody after more than a month in captivity.
Selene Saavedra Roman worked for Mesa Airlines for less than a month when she was assigned to a flight to Mexico, according to The Points Guy. A native of Peru, Roman’s parents brought her to the United States illegally when she was 3 years old. She was allowed to remain in the country as a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but was not allowed to leave the country. Roman put Mexico and Canada on her no-fly list as a precaution, but when she was assigned to fly into Mexico, she went because she was scared to lose her new job.
Her employers told her she would be fine, but when she returned to Houston, Texas, on February 12, she was taken into custody. She was held at the airport for 24 hours before she was transferred to a privately-owned detention center.
“It really boggles my mind why the government would want to seek to continue to detain someone with no criminal history who was a graduate of Texas A&M and who was approved and on her way to citizenship but was held for what was obviously a mistake,” Belinda Arroyo, Roman’s lawyer, said. “But here we are, almost a month and a half later.”
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The 28-year-old remained in custody until her March 22 release.
"Being released is an incredible feeling. I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go," Roman said in a statement to NBC News. "I am thankful and grateful for the amazing people that came to fight for me, and it fills my heart. Thank you everyone that has supported. I am just so happy to have my freedom back."
Roman was in the process of obtaining American citizenship when she was captured. She accused ICE officials of threatening to revoke her DACA status while she was detained. Her husband, David Watkins, called the experience a “nightmare.” Watkins suggested his wife, a former teacher, become a flight attendant after they traveled around the country for their honeymoon. He believed her friendly nature made her a perfect fit.
“I proposed the idea,” Watkins admitted. “I’m kicking myself for it now.”
Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein apologized to Roman while she was in custody.
“We are deeply sorry Selene and her husband have had to endure this situation,” Ornstein said in a statement. “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.”
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