Vanessa Romo

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.

Before her stint on the News Desk, Romo spent the early months of the Trump Administration on the Washington Desk covering stories about culture and politics – the voting habits of the post-millennial generation, the rise of Maxine Waters as a septuagenarian pop culture icon and DACA quinceañeras as Trump protests.

In 2016, she was at the core of the team that launched and produced The New York Times' first political podcast, The Run-Up with Michael Barbaro. Prior to that, Romo was a Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism where she began working on a radio documentary about a pilot program in Los Angeles teaching black and Latino students to code switch.

Romo has also traveled extensively through the Member station world in California and Washington. As the education reporter at Southern California Public Radio, she covered the region's K-12 school districts and higher education institutions and won the Education Writers Association first place award as well as a Regional Edward R. Murrow for Hard News Reporting.

Before that, she covered business and labor for Member station KNKX, keeping an eye on global companies including Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks and Microsoft.

A Los Angeles native, she is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, where she received a degree in history. She also earned a master's degree in Journalism from NYU. She loves all things camaron-based.

In a move intended to de-escalate a standoff between scientists and native Hawaiians blocking the construction of a massive telescope on a mountaintop they believe to be sacred land, Gov. David Ige on Tuesday night rescinded an emergency proclamation that was issued to help remove demonstrators.

With just two days before he leaves office, disgraced Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has named a new secretary of state who would then become Puerto Rico's top leader on Friday — if the island's lawmakers approve.

"After much analysis, and taking into account the best interests of our people, I have selected Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to fill the vacancy of Secretary of State," Rosselló tweeted Wednesday morning, confirming days of rumors that he had tapped his former rival to take over.

Nothing says, "I've been to Kuwait!" like a missile launcher keepsake.

At least that seems to be the explanation one Texas man provided officials at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport after they discovered the device in his checked luggage.

He thought this might be his big chance. He would get spotted by a coach, offered a soccer scholarship and instantly be college-bound. Instead, Francisco Erwin Galicia, a U.S. citizen, was picked up by Border Patrol officers, processed into detention and held for 26 days.

"It nearly broke him," Galicia's lawyer, Claudia Galan told NPR. "He said the conditions were horrible, inhumane. And he was about to sign a deportation order ... even though he was born here."

Updated 8:05 p.m. ET

Hours after a federal judge on the East Coast refused to block a Trump administration rule requiring most asylum-seekers to ask for protection in another country before they try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, a judge on the West Coast put a stop to the new policy.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against the controversial rule unveiled by the White House and applied on a "pilot" basis last week.

The Trump administration announced on Monday it is expanding fast-track deportation regulations to include the removal of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the U.S. continuously for two years or more.

A former National Security Agency contractor who pleaded guilty to stealing vast troves of classified material over the course of two decades has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Harold Martin III, 54, apologized before U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett handed down the sentence on Friday.

"My methods were wrong, illegal and highly questionable," Martin told the court in Baltimore, according to The Associated Press.

Updated July 19 at 12:25 p.m. ET

Mark Morgan, acting head of Customs and Border Protection, said on Thursday that his agency is rolling out the Trump administration's new asylum rule as a small "pilot" for now but that officials expect it to be blocked in court.

One of the rarest birds in New Zealand is having its best breeding season in decades, potentially doubling the population.

The orange-fronted parakeet, known locally as the kākāriki karaka, is in the midst of a prolonged mating season after a beech seed bonanza, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said in a statement on Wednesday.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Prosecutors have dropped a criminal case against Kevin Spacey in which the actor was accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man in Nantucket, Mass., in 2016.

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said in court documents filed Wednesday that he was abandoning the case "due to the unavailability of the complaining witness."

As far as drug-smuggling plans go, this one probably should have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

A Colombian man trying to sneak more than a pound of cocaine into Spain was caught with the package (poorly) hidden under his toupee, a Spanish police official told NPR.

The extra carry-on bag was taped to the top of 65-year-old man's head, creating a very bizarre lewk as he disembarked from a flight arriving in Barcelona from Bogota.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Planned Parenthood's President Leana Wen was removed from the position on Tuesday after less than a year on the job.

Wen, who said she and the board had been in negotiations about her management style, wrote on Twitter that she was ousted during a "secret meeting."

About 300 demonstrators are trying to halt construction on the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, developers of which are supposed to break ground on Hawaii's Big Island this week.

Before the sun came up on the summit of Mauna Kea, the island's tallest mountain, a group of about half a dozen protesters chained themselves to a grate in the road at the base of the dormant volcano in an attempt to block workers from accessing the only paved road onto the what they say is a sacred site.

Don't see the graphic above? Click here.

On Friday, President Trump confirmed reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to conduct nationwide sweeps to arrest thousands of undocumented immigrant families that the government says have missed a court appearance or have been issued court-ordered removals from the country.

Four year colleges and universities have difficulty recruiting talented students from the lower end of the economic spectrum who can't afford to attend such institutions without taking on massive debt. To remedy that — at least in part — the University of Texas-Austin announced it is offering full tuition scholarships to in-state undergraduates whose families make $65,000 or less per year.

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