By Suzanne Gamboa
AUSTIN, Texas – An airline hostess of Mesa Airlines who had mistakenly assured her airline that she could travel to Mexico had been arrested on her return to the United States and detained for longer. from a month in an immigration detention center in Conroe, Texas, according to his lawyer.
Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, air hostess for Mesa Airlines, a Phoenix-based regional airline, was arrested on Feb. 12 at Houston's George Bush intercontinental airport, told NBC News on Friday. his lawyer, Belinda Arroyo. Saavedra Roman's detention was reported for the first time by The Points Guy's travel website.
Originally from Peru, she is registered with DACA, the Obama administration's program that allows her to stay legally in the country and work.
"We are deeply sorry that Selene and her husband had to endure this situation. It is clearly unfair that someone is detained for six weeks for something that is nothing other than an administrative error and misunderstanding, "said Jonathan Ornstein, chairman and chief executive officer. General of Mesa. "We are doing everything in our power to ask the administration to release Selene and to drop all charges arising from this horrible situation."
Saavedra Roman is married to a US citizen and is seeking legal resident status, but Arroyo said the federal government is now threatening to revoke its DACA status.
Under the Obama administration, DACA beneficiaries could apply to travel outside the country. But when President Donald Trump ended DACA, this trip was canceled. Court injunctions have prevented the Trump administration from terminating DACA for the time being, but the courts have not lifted the ban on DACA recipients traveling outside the United States.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that they could not comment on any particular cases and cited their January 2018 memo that they would neither accept nor approve applications for "early release" of DACA beneficiaries. Early parole is the authorization that DACA recipients must obtain to travel outside the country.
Saavedra Roman has owned the DACA since 2012, when it was made available to children illegally in the country and meeting certain criteria.
In a statement released Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which holds Saavedra Roman, confirmed her arrest and said she had been "treated" as a rejected crew member, which refers to members of the airlines and crews of ships that do not have the necessary documents to enter. the country when they arrive at ports and airports.
Saavedra Roman had informed airlines of his DACA status when he was hired, Arroyo said. When she was posted to Mexico flight, she exchanged several emails with her employer, asking her if she could work the flight because of her status, added her lawyer.
The airline told him that it was allowed, said Arroyo. Hired in January, Saavedra Roman was still on probation with her employer. She was worried about losing her job if she refused the assignment, her lawyer said. She stated that her client had provided her with e-mails of her conversations with her supervisors.
"I can not believe that this case has continued as before. I thought: "When they see that she has DACA status, that's an error, they will release her on parole and let her out". "Arroyo said.
David Watkins, Saavedra Roman's husband, said Saavedra Roman had listed Mexico and Canada on her "very intentionally" no-fly list when she was hired by Mesa Airlines.
Watkins said that he did not know that his wife had been sent to Mexico until she was back on the ground and sent him a text saying that she had landed at Houston and that she had come back from Mexico. In the following text, she told him that she was in detention and asked her to contact her lawyer, he said.
"It was absolutely terrible," Watkins said of his wife's arrest. "Sometimes you have a nightmare and when you wake up, you say," Okay, the nightmare is over. "When I go to bed, I have nightmares, and when I wake up I'm always stuck in a nightmare."
Sara Nelson, International President of the Flight Attendant Association (CWA), said it is common for flight attendants to request and be excluded from certain flights. For example, in some countries, some passports are not accepted, some do not accept a convicted person for driving while intoxicated. Some airlines do not require a US passport because they fly only on the national territory.
The flight attendant association has launched a petition with MoveOn.org. He calls on the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to drop all charges and release Saavedra Roman. He had over 6,000 signatures out of 7,500 that the group is trying to obtain.
Nelson said the association was also organizing a lawmakers blitz on Capitol Hill and was addressing committees that oversee immigration, the congressional caucus and others, including the local deputy. of Saavedra Roman, the representative Bill Flores, R-Texas.
"She was a new air hostess, she asked her company for advice and expressed her concerns, it was an administrative error and the justice takes into account the realities of the situation. "said Nelson. "Nobody looks at this with a reasonable purpose."
Watkins said that he and his wife usually speak on the phone morning and evening every day. He is allowed to see her for an hour, once a week, through two inches of glass. No contact allowed. "
His wife is a Texas A & M graduate, like Watkins, and she has no criminal background. They had been friends for several years before their wedding on April 7, 2017. She arrived in the country at the age of 3, announced the flight attendant association in her petition.
"I told him, I really hope we will not spend our birthday with you in jail," Watkins told NBC News.
Saavedra Roman had worked as a teacher in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, but after their honeymoon in the United States, Watkins told his wife that he had proposed to his wife to become a flight attendant. .
He said that he thought she had personality for that because she's always uplifting, smiling and helping people. They chose a regional airline so that it could avoid international travel.
"I suggested the idea," Watkins said. "I want it now."