Things That Matter

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

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You Can Visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Right Now With This Incredible 360º Tour

Culture

You Can Visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul Right Now With This Incredible 360º Tour

omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Thanks to Coronavirus, you’re likely not hopping on a plane any time soon to go and visit one of the world’s top destinations – Mexico City. Most of us are still following stay-at-home orders and the rest of the world is pretty much off limits to us all right now. But thankfully, we do have access to the World Wide Web, right?

Sure, we could pass the time binge watching our favorite TV shows, but why not take a little time to go on a little museum tour of one of the most famous Mexicans of all time?

Thanks to some super cool tech – and the magic of Google – Frida Kahlo’s famed Casa Azul Museum is at your finger tips. You can pay a visit from your living room, bedroom, patio – where ever you wanna be.

Frida’s Casa Azul is one of the most popular attractions in Mexico.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Before the pandemic, la Ciudad de México had become one of the world’s top destinations. With it’s rich mix of foods and cultures and tons of attractions and museums (the city reportedly has the highest count of museums in the world!), it was at the top of tourist’s lists.

And at the top of the recommended sights to take in – the famous Casa Azul. Located a bit south of the central city in the beautiful colonia of Coyoacán, is the house where Frida Kahlo was born and spent much of her life.

People would often wait in line for several hours to pay a visit to this venerated museum and garden complex. In fact, it was rated by Salma Hayek as one of her favorite things to do in the city, in an interview with Vanity Fair. But now, Google is bringing the museum to you and it’s incredible. You can follow along with the following tour using this link.

With this virtual tour, you get the chance to pop into the artist’s famed studio.

Credit: Google Arts & Culture

Inside Frida’s studio, you can truly visualize her experience as an artist. The space is filled with giant windows letting in all sorts of natural light. There’s also a large collection of books and prints that likely provided her with inspiration for her pieces.

Visitors also get a glimpse of her workstation, filled with paints, brushes, canvases and other supplies.

You can visit her kitchen…

Credit: Google Arts & Culture

Easily one of my favorite parts of the house, is the cocina – which is beautifully decorated in traditional Mexican style. It’s home to a large collection of pottery and woodworking which lends it a very cozy feeling.

Take a look at the thousands of art pieces that are located inside the museum.

Credit: Google Arts & Culture

Several rooms of the house and its hallways, are now dedicated to displaying thousands of Frida Kahlo’s works. In fact, Casa Azul is home to the largest collection of Kahlo pieces in the world – which makes sense since this was her actual home.

From photographs and writings, to famed paintings and sketches, a Frida Kahlo fan could easily spend hours walking through these galleries.

Along with many of her iconic fashion looks.

Credit: Google Arts & Culture

Perhaps one of the most popular exhibits at the museum, is the dress vault. This gallery is home to some of the artist’s most famous looks. And let’s face it: Frida Kahlo is a fashion icon in so many ways.

The museum often rotates the clothing that is on display so visitors are often treated to new looks.

And the museum is well-known for its gardens, which you also get the chance to visit.

Credit: Google Arts & Culture

Casa Azul is also well-known for it’s beautiful gardens. Often home to roaming peacocks, it’s a tranquil setting in the midst of the bustling city and likely one of the top draws for visitors.

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2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

Things That Matter

2020 Has Been A Tragic Year As A Record Number Of Migrants Die In ICE Custody

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The news out of 2020 continues to devastate and it’s getting harder and harder to be shocked by just how horrible things are looking. However, the level of neglect inside ICE detention centers is so shocking that it’s leading to a record number of deaths. No matter what year it is, that is shocking.

It’s been 14 years, during the presidency of George Bush, since ICE detention centers have recorded the level of deaths that they’re recording this year. Despite warnings from health and immigration experts, ICE has largely refused to release immigrants from overcrowded cells despite an ongoing and out of control global health pandemic. This blatant disregard for life has had a huge impact as at least 18 people have died while in ICE detention centers so far this fiscal year.

ICE is responsible for the well-being of individuals in its custody and has broad discretion to release people for humanitarian reasons. The government should test everyone in its custody for COVID-19 and increase releases to prevent further deaths.

Three recent deaths in ICE detention centers bring 2020’s total to the second highest since 2006.

The death toll for immigrants in ICE custody reached the highest level since 2006 after three more people died this week.

Last week, it was reported that two men died while in ICE detention on August 5. One of the men who died last week was James Thomas Hill, a 72-year-old Canadian citizen who tested positive for COVID-19 about a month before his death. He was detained for three months at Farmville Detention Center in Virginia, despite being high-risk due to his age.

A 51-year-old man from Taiwan, Kuan Hui Lee, also died on August 5. Lee had been detained at Krome Detention Center in Florida for 7 months because he had overstayed a visa 16 years ago. While further details of his medical condition and death have not been reported, ICE has a long history of medical neglect of people in its custody with serious health conditions.

Then on August 11, Buzzfeed News reported that a 70-year-old Costa Rican man died in ICE custody at a Georgia Hospital on August 10, 2020, after testing positive for COVID-19. The man had been detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. According to AJC.com, the detainee suffered from diabetes and hypertension and had been hospitalized since August 4, 2020. ICE officials confirmed the death to BuzzFeed News, but have not released any additional details yet.

These tragedies increased the total deaths in ICE custody this fiscal year to 18, the highest number since 2006. Many—if not all—of the deaths that occur in ICE custody are avoidable.

“Many of these deaths were avoidable, unnecessary, and a direct result of the Trump administration’s refusal to take basic steps to protect the health and safety of detainees,” John Sandweg, a former ICE director during the Obama administration, told BuzzFeed News.

Many deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 but that’s not the complete picture.

Coronavirus has swept through ICE detention centers like wildfire and this has had a major impact on the health and welfare of detainees, the community, and even ICE employees.

So far this year, more than twice as many people have died in ICE custody over last year. And, unfortunately, there are at least 1,065 active Covid-19 cases in ICE detention centers, meaning more people are likely to get sick and die before the year ends.

The number of deaths is especially alarming considering the average number of people detained has been significantly lower this year than in recent years.

Farmville, an ICE detention center in Virgina, has the largest COVID-19 outbreak in immigration detention. As of August 6, over 97% of people held in this ICE facility had contracted COVID-19. The outbreak began as a super-spreader event caused by a transfer of 74 people from Florida and Arizona.

Advocates have consistently criticized ICE for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the people it detains.

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