A Mesa Airlines flight attendant has been freed from federal detention thanks to an onslaught of social media pressure.
I had prepared another post today on this topic, a very opinionated one, that I can thankfully spare you from now that she has been released. But I’m still going to speak my mind. 28-year-old Selene Saavedra Roman was born in Peru and taken illegally into the United States when she was three years old. She grew up in the United States, graduated from Texas A&M, married an Ameican, and was in the process of becoming an American citizen. Last year, she took a job with Mesa Airlines, a regional carrier that operates on behalf of American Eagle and United Express.
Although technically an illegal alien, Saavedra is protected under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under Trump Administration rules, she is not permitted to leave the country. Although she indicated to Mesa that she did not want to accept any international assignments (Canada and Mexico), she was assigned a trip to Mexico City. Her supervisor assured her that there would be no immigration issues and she was reluctant to reject the trip while still under probation.
That proved to be a costly mistake. Upon her return from Mexico City, she was arrested and moved to an ICE detention facility where she sat for over a month.
On Thursday, The Points Guy brought her story to light. It was picked up by the Association of Flight Attendants and word quickly spread on social media. Even Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the flight attendant. By yesterday afternoon she had been released. She’ll face a deportation hearing next month.
My Three Takeaways
First, I am so happy she has been released. I wholeheartedly agree with Gary Leff that someone like Saavedra is not the problem with immigration in the United States. For those who think otherwise, I would also draw your attention to the following debate clip featuring Geroge H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan:
Second, she did break the law. Not deliberatley, mind you, but leaving and attempting to return to the country as a DACA repcipent without advance parole broke the rules. Let this be a vital lesson that we should always trust, but verify. Saavedra’s mistake was listening to her employer insteading of seeking expert advice on her immigration status.
Third, how much power is in social media! One article by TPG spread into worldwide headlines and over 17,000 petition signatures to free her. She had been rotting in a privately-run prison for over a month when suddenly she was released this afternoon. Why? Social meida. For all that is wrong with social media, this time social meida was harnessed in a good way. I was proud to have signed the petition.
The saga is not over for Saavedra. She faces a deportation hearing on April 4th in which she could be removed from the country. For the love of everything decent, I hope a hardworking young woman who has known no other country but the United States of American and married an American will be allowed to stay. In fact, I hope her citizenship is quickly processed.
It is easy to make blanket statements about how people who broke the immigration laws don’t belong in the USA. But when you hear their stories and understand, at least for DACA recipients, that they are being punished for the sins of their parents, you cannot help but to pause and ponder…at least that’s how I feel.