Commonsense has prevailed – Selene Saavedra Roman, a 28-year old flight attendant working for regional airline Mesa Air has been released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after a public backlash against her detention gained worldwide media attention. Roman’s lawyer confirmed she had been released after a high-profile campaign to secure her freedom was launched by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).
Roman, who holds DACA status, has lived in the United States since the age of three when her parents brought her to the country from her native Peru. She has never been back to Peru and doesn’t have any life there – in fact, Roman has never left the United States since arriving over two and a half decades ago.
She went on to graduate from Texas A&M and both lives and works in the United States legally. She is married to a U.S. citizen and only recently qualified as a flight attendant. Despite telling her bosses that she did not want to fly outside of the United States ecause of her legal status, her bosses assigned her a turnaround trip to Mexico.
Roman didn’t even get off the plane during the February 12 assignment but when she returned, ICE detained her at Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). She has since been locked up in an immigration detention facility which has been likened to a prison. The young flight attendant had been due to face a Federal judge in April to fight for her right to remain in the U.S.
BREAKING: Solidarity wins! I just spoke to Selene’s attorney, her husband is on his way to pick her up and @afa_cwa is heading there to provide support. She’s been released thanks to everyone who raised their voice. More to come as we learn the details. THANK YOU! #FreeSelene
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) March 22, 2019
The head of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), Sara Nelson said on Twitter that Roman’s husband was on his way to the detention facility to pick up his wife following the news that ICE was dropping the case. Representatives of the union are said to be meeting with Roman tonight to discuss their next steps.
Earlier, Nelson had told reporters her union was mobilizing and would not stop fighting until Roman was freed and the charges dropped.
A petition calling for her release was signed by nearly 15,000 people in the few short hours since it was created.
The chief executive of Mesa Air, which operates regional services on behalf of United Express and American Airlines, said he was “deeply sorry” for everything that Roman and her husband had been put through.
Jonathan Ornstein continued: “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.”
ICE has not yet commented on the news that Roman has been released.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.