Selene Saavedra Roman is a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines, operating for United Express when she was assigned a trip to Mexico on February 12. It was a straight turn-around, she never even got off the plane. But when she returned to the U.S. she was detained at the border and has been in prison now for a month and a half.
The 28 year old woman came to the United States with her parents when she was 3 years old. She is a graduate of Texas A&M, held a valid immigration status and is married to a U.S. citizen. She was in the process of obtaining citizenship. However when she returned on her Peruvian passport she was stopped.
Selene Saavedra Roman is a DREAMer with approved status, no criminal history, and simply doing her job as a certified U.S. Flight Attendant. But she was detained by ICE and has been held for over a month with no end in sight. #FreeSelene
Sign the petition: https://t.co/SDwVnbBAnv pic.twitter.com/D4oqiOmaFF
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) March 22, 2019
Saavedra Roman’s parents were undocumented, and she’s been in the U.S. in valid DACA status. The federal government wants to deport her to Peru, where she has no ties whatsoever. She hasn’t been to that country – indeed, hadn’t left the United States – in 25 years.
No matter what you think of immigration, this flight attendant isn’t the problem. She was living in the U.S. in valid status and had legal employment authorization. Departing the US and returning would have required Advance Parole, and traveling without that was technically a violation.
She had been assured by her supervisor at Mesa Airlines that her work travel to Mexico in DACA status would be fine. She was still on probation as a new hire at Mesa, and didn’t want to jeopardize her job by refusing the assignment.
I had issues with Marriott content at The Points Guy yesterday, but for those of you trashing that site in the comments consider that they covered this story before I did and they’re cited in the online petition to free Saavedra Roman. They have a platform, and it can be used for good.
“She spent Valentine’s Day in prison, I know that,” [her husband] said in a telephone interview. “They’re only allowed outside once a week, like in a concrete courtyard where I guess they can look at the sky, and maybe they have grass. She wakes up at 6 for chow, and it’s lights out at 10:30pm, and it’s all about the other prisoners trying not to tear each other apart. I can visit her for an hour once a week, but I can’t bring her books or photos, and it’s through two inches of glass. I mean, yeah, it’s a prison.”
Reportedly neither Mesa (nor United) have offered any assistance. Oscar Munoz can do better. She has a hearing April 4.
Here by the way are George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan debating what to do with children of undocumented immigrants growing up in the United States.