politics

ICE Releases Flight Attendant and DACA Recipient That Was Held for 6 Weeks

Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, a Mesa Airlines flight attendant, was released from immigration detention last week after being taken into custody when she returned to the U.S. on a flight from Mexico she was working.
Saavedra Roman, who as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient is banned from traveling outside the U.S. under Trump administration’s rules, had been detained for the past six weeks. This all happened despite reassurance from her employer that she would not have problems re-entering the U.S. after working the international route. All of this had caused an uproar online about her rights and correct protocol for immigration officials to follow.

Two years ago,the Trump administration reversed the ability of DACA recipients to leave the U.S.

Saavedra Roman came to the U.S. with her parents from Peru when she was three and had been enrolled in the DACA program since 2012. She is also married to David Watkins, an American citizen, and had already received approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for a green card as the wife of an American citizen.

The 28-year-old has lived in the U.S. for past 25 years, growing up in Dallas, Texas. It was there where she graduated from Texas A&M in 2014 and been working to complete the process to obtain permanent status. She had previously worked as a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher before starting pursuing a career as a flight attendant. She has no criminal record.

Despite all this, Saavedra Roman was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was threatened to lose her DACA protections because she left the country without first applying for “advance parole” (which requires a fee of over $500).

“I got the call. She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me. They are going to release me,'” Watkins told NBC News.

She specifically requested Mexico and Canada on her “no fly” list upon being hired.

Saavedra Roman had informed Mesa Airlines upon being hired about her DACA status, according to her attorney, Belinda Arroyo, who told NBC News. When she found out she was going to be assigned the Mexico flight, she sent several emails to her job questioning whether she could work the flight due to her status.

The airline told her it would be allowed, Arroyo said. After being hired in January, she was still on probation with the airline and was concerned about losing her job if she rejected the assignment.

Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told NBC News it’s common practice for flight attendants to request to be excluded from certain flight routes.

“She was a brand-new flight attendant. She asked her company for guidance and raised concerns. This was an administrative error, and justice takes into consideration the realities of the situation,” Nelson told NBC News. “There is no one looking at this with a reasonable lens.”

In a joint statement with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), Mesa Airlines chief executive Jonathan Ornstein issued an apology to Saavedra Roman and asked ICE to release her. They argued that it’s wrong to continually detain someone “over something that is nothing more than an administrative error and a misunderstanding.”

Her story captured the attention of many across the country that led to a petition asking for her release.

Following her arrest and detention, Mesa Airlines and the AFA asked that the Trump administration and the DHS release Saavedra Roman. The detention even caught the attention of Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.

Shortly after a MoveOn.org petition was launched calling for her freedom, Saavedra Roman was released from ICE detention.

“Being released is an indescribable feeling. I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go,” said Saavedra Roman in a statement. “I am thankful and grateful for the amazing people that came to fight for me, and it fills my heart. Thank you to everyone that has supported. I am just so happy to have my freedom back.”

Saavedra Roman is scheduled to appear before an immigration judge in April. 

READ: Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

Data Shows New York City’s Most Elite High Schools Are Also The Most Segregated

Politics

Data Shows New York City’s Most Elite High Schools Are Also The Most Segregated

On the heels of the college admissions scandal highlighted the class divide in accessing higher education, new data reveals a similar story for some trying to get to into elite high schools. A report by the New York Times shows Latino and Black students make up 70 percent of New York’s public school students, but only 10 percent are admitted to the city’s eight specialized high schools. Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s most selective schools, has gotten the most attention for admitting only seven Black students and 33 Latino students out of the 895 students of next year’s freshman class.

In total, about six percent of the offers from New York City’s top schools were reportedly handed out to Latino students and four percent were offered to black students. The report has started a conversation on how to racially integrate the city’s elite high schools.

At issue in the admissions process is a test called the Specialized High School Admissions Test(SHSAT), which helps determine placement.

Credit: NY Times

Each year, the eight high schools admit close to 4,000 freshmen from a pool of nearly 30,000 eighth-graders who take the Specialized High School Admission Test. As of now, students are accepted on how well they perform on those test. Students spend months prepping for the test in hopes of getting into one of these elite schools.

Stuyvesant is the toughest school to get admitted to and also has the highest cutoff score for admission. Due to these factors, the school also has the lowest percentage of Black and Latino students of any of New York City’s roughly 600 public high schools.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed replacing the exam with a system based on middle-school class ranks and statewide standardized test scores.

“Can anyone look the parent of a Latino or Black child in the eye and tell them their precious daughter or son has an equal chance to get into one of their city’s best high schools?” de Blasio wrote in an op-ed for Chalkbeat. “You can’t write a single test that captures the full reality of a person.”

But there has yet be any progression towards anything being done to change this testing system. Yet the recently released numbers show the growing disparity of those getting a great education compared to those, mainly Latino and Blacks students, that aren’t.

The admissions statistics highlight the enormity of education inequity at New York City’s top high schools.

While the dismal statistics show a harsh reality for many minorities in the city, others say the issue needs to be carefully approached. Some have speculated that the high numbers of Asian-American students, who make up the majority of the school popuilation, would be reduced to make space for more Latino and Black students.

John Liu, a state senator from the borough of Queens who chairs the Senate’s New York City education committee, told the NY Times. “A desegregation plan can only be effective if the problem is viewed as a whole, and one that is not formulated to the total exclusion of Asian-Americans.”

Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the elite Stuyvesant High School for their low admittance numbers.

Among those who that have spoke on the dismal admission numbers is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The Bronx congresswoman took to Twitter to express her displeasure with the alarming report.

“[Sixty-eight percent] of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino,” Ocasio tweeted. “To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like.”

Broad change is desperately needed in the New York City public school system.

Credit: Getty Images

If the admission system is failing students of color from getting quality education. there might be a greater problem here. While one side wants to overhaul to admission system, the other warns it’ll heavily affect the current population of students attending these schools.

The issue is being played out in the largest school district in the country, which enrolls almost one million children. It also highlights the larger issue of education inequality being discussed across the country, both in K-12 and in higher education.

At a town hall this past Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez, state senators, and education activists took part in a discussion about improving public schools. While Ocasio-Cortez didn’t take a stance on overhauling the admission system, she asked why all public city schools don’t have similarly quality reputations as the elite high schools.

“Why isn’t every public school in New York City a Brooklyn Tech-caliber school?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “Every one should be.”

READ: The College Cheating Scandal Highlights The Different Paths Many Face Getting To College

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