Local flight attendant detained by ICE expresses gratitude for those who fought for her release

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CONROE, Tex. (KBTX) - 9:15 p.m. update:

A flight attendant just released from the custody of U.S. immigration authorities after more than a month of detention says her release feels "incredible."

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it released Selene Saavedra Roman on Friday evening from a Conroe, Texas, detention center.

In a statement issued through a spokesman, Saavedra Roman said that when she left the detention center, "I cried and hugged my husband and never wanted to let go."

She expressed gratitude for those who argued for her release, saying "it fills my heart."

Roman's attorney, Belinda Martinez Arroyo, said Mesa Airlines had mistakenly reassured the enrollee in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that she could work a flight to Mexico, but Saavedra Roman was detained Feb. 12 upon her return to Houston.

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A College Station flight attendant who was recently detained by ICE on a flight back to the United States from Mexico has been released by authorities at a facility in Conroe, KBTX has confirmed.

Selene Saavedra Roman's husband, David Watkins, tells KBTX his wife was released early Friday afternoon after her story began to circulate in the media.

Roman, a Texas A&M graduate and a flight attendant for Mesa Airlines, is also a DACA recipient. She was detained at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston last month by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials after returning from Mexico.

She's been in custody since mid-February.

The 28-year-old was assured by Mesa Airlines that she could legally fly to Mexico and back, but was detained upon her arrival back to the United States.

Roman came to the United States as an undocumented child from Peru at 3 years old. She grew up in Texas, graduated from Texas A&M, attained legal status under Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), and married a U.S. citizen.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have already granted her I-130 Petition, which puts her on the path to lawful permanent residency.

KBTX was in Conroe at the detention center Friday afternoon. Facility staff would not allow us inside their reception area to see Selene's release.

Her husband said he was initially heading to Conroe to pick her up. Late in the day he said he was heading to Houston to meet her and somebody else picked her up at the facility. Watkins said they are not doing TV interviews at this time at the request of their attorney who is continuing to work on Selene's immigration case.

Earlier in the day Watkins said it's been a very difficult time and his wife was distraught being locked up. He told KBTX he could only see her behind plate glass when he visited Conroe and she was in a minimum security portion of the facility.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by IAH Flight Attendants to help with financial costs. You can visit the GoFundMe in our related links section.

This is a developing story. Continue checking back here for more details.

The following statement has been released by The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and Mesa Airlines:

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) and Mesa Airlines are calling on the Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to immediately review the case of DREAMer Selene Saavedra Roman, release her from detention, and drop all charges against her after she was detained while working as a certified flight attendant.

“We are deeply sorry Selene and her husband have had to endure this situation. 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,” said Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein. "We are doing everything in our power to ask the administration to release Selene, and drop all charges stemming from this horrible situation."

"Our union is mobilizing and we will not stop fighting until Selene is returned home and all charges dropped," said AFA President Sara Nelson. "We will fight with every tool at our disposal until justice is done, Selene is reunited with her husband and cleared of these outrageous charges."

Despite the fact that she is lawfully in this country with the ability to work and has a pathway to permanent residence, Selene has been held since February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a privately-run detention facility in Conroe, Texas. She is threatened with deportation to Peru, a country she has never known.

“She has followed the rules, paid taxes, and is currently in process to citizenship,” said Nelson. “The United States is her country and we need to bring her home.”

The following is an updated news release issued by AFA following her release from ICE:
Following the release of Mesa Flight Attendant Selene Saavedra Roman after 6 weeks in ICE custody, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) provided the following statement:

"I often say 'Solidarity is a force stronger than gravity,' and that proved true today. Since we launched our petition less than 18 hours ago, tens of thousands of flight attendants, social justice activists, political leaders, airline executives and everyday Americans from all walks of life came together to speak in one voice and demand Selene's release. Today, solidarity won. We are deeply grateful to everyone who lifted their voices and helped reunite Selene with her husband. We will continue fighting to ensure that she is protected from any future intimidation or harassment and allowed to return to her life as a flight attendant peacefully.

"This event highlights the urgency of commonsense immigration reform and resolution for America's children who are part of DACA. Our country is strong through our diversity. We are stronger together and better together."