What You Should Learn from the Immigration Case of the Flight Attendant Who Was Detained for Weeks

If you have an immigration strategy that made up of little more than wishful thinking or hope, then you really don’t have an immigration strategy. You may have optimism, but that’s often not a good thing to have.

So many people get themselves into trouble in immigration by having too much optimism, doing too little planning, assuming that a “fair” result will ultimately be arrived at, and not consulting with an immigration attorney.

The case of the Selene Saavedra-Roman, a flight attendant who traveled to Mexico for work, is relevant here. Her case has made the newspapers. For some additional background information, let’s look at an excerpt from an AP article:

[Saavadra-Roman] raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.

The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by U.S. authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.

Soon after her lawyer, her husband, the airline and a flight attendants’ group publicly demanded her release, Saavedra Roman called to tell her husband she was getting out.

“She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me,’” her husband, David Watkins, told reporters.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was looking into her status. Earlier, the agency said Saavedra Roman did not have a valid document to enter the country and was being detained while going through immigration court proceedings.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency that oversees the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — declined to discuss the case. But the agency says on its website that participants who travel outside the country without a special document allowing them to do so are no longer covered by the program.

The agency no longer issues the document to the program’s enrollees, according to the website.

One does lose DACA status when one leaves the US without the “special document” allowing them to return. Every single immigration attorney knows this–or would quickly discover it after doing a little legal research. A one-hour consultation with even an inexperienced immigration attorney would have saved Mrs. Saavedra-Roman a lot of heartache.

On a more fundamental level, a more paranoid attitude or a less optimistic attitude would have served Mrs. Saavedra-Roman well.

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