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Flight Attendant Detained by ICE Due to Mesa Airlines Error

ICE officials tried to revoke a Dreamer’s status while holding her for no legal reason. And her employer may very well have been the catalyst that cost Saavandra Roman her freedom.

A Peruvian-born flight attendant who works for Mesa Airlines, Inc. was detained in February when she tried to return to the U.S. from Mexico. 
 
Saavadra Roman’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status kept her from being deported. However, she was held for six weeks in detention.  
 
Her attorney, Belinda Arroyo, said officials tried to revoke her DACA status, considering her an “arriving alien.”
 
Roman, 28, has been in the U.S. for 25 years. She went to college at Texas A&M University, and is married to an American citizen. She has no criminal history.
  
Roman was released on Friday pending “adjudication of her immigrant proceedings,” according to ICE.
 
Now she is facing legal battles to stave off deportation. 
 
Her husband, David Watkins, who sped to the detention center to take her home said in an interview, “I think my wife is going to have PTSD for a long, long time.”
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA tweeted the day before Roman’s release:

Employer risked her safety with no qualms

Roman had requested, when she took the job, to never be assigned to international flights. She and her husband had purposely not spoken out about Trump’s policies before because they were afraid. 
Yet when the assignment to fly to Mexico came up, Mesa Airlines Inc. insisted that she go. Amber Wansten serves as Vice President of Inflight Services.
Arroyo said Roman was assured by Mesa Airlines, which has an all-white executive team​, that she would not have an issue returning to the country when they scheduled her for the international flight. They didn’t consult an immigration lawyer nor did they urge her to do so.
In a statement, Mesa Airlines chairman, Jonathan Ornstein, apologized and said he was asking authorities to drop any charges that stemmed from Roman’s detention.
But that doesn’t help Roman stay off ICE’s radar — she and her husband’s worst fear.

‘Unlawfully and arbitrarily revoking DACA grants and work authorizations’

The ACLU filed a class action lawsuit in 2017 against the Trump administration, arguing it “has a practice of unlawfully and arbitrarily revoking DACA grants and work authorizations based on unproven allegations or low-level offenses such as traffic violations that do not disqualify the individual from the program.”
 
One of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit, Arreola Robles, was detained in March 2017 by ICE because he gave a ride to a teen who was later deported. Robles was unaware of the teen’s status. But he had received a letter prior to his detention saying because he was in the country illegally, his DACA was being revoked.
 
The judge who ruled to reinstate Robles’ status said trying to revoke DACA because someone is there illegally defeats the purpose of DACA— meant to protect non-citizens. He called the move by ICE, “arbitrary and capricious” and said it violates the federal Administrative Procedure Act.”
 
“The public has a strong interest in ensuring that the nation’s immigration laws are robustly — and fairly — enforced,” Gutierrez wrote.
 
Yet, two years later, ICE is still trying to revoke DACA status for no legal reason.
 
“Given the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies, I’m not surprised that more people are being targeted — including individuals who are longtime residents who pose no danger, contribute to our society and economy, and have U.S. citizen families,” said Lucas Guttentag, a Stanford University law professor and a former senior advisor at the Department of Homeland Security under Obama, when Trump first took office and terminations numbers began to quickly rise.
 

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