Vanessa Romo | Connecticut Public Radio
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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.

It took about 30 seconds to bring down the gunman who killed nine people and injured 27 others in a crowded section of downtown Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday morning — just hours after another scene of violence in the Texas city of El Paso.

Updated 4 p.m. ET

The shooter behind the grisly mass shooting that left 20 people dead and 26 wounded at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning has been identified by officials as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas.

State prosecutors in El Paso announced on Sunday that they will pursue the death penalty against Crusius.

Updated Sunday at 11 a.m. ET

Twenty people are dead and 26 wounded after a mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning, according to state and local authorities.

Speaking at a news conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said that what should have been a leisurely day of shopping "turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas."

"We pray that God will be with those who've been harmed in any way," he added.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

An administrative judge with the New York Police Department has recommended that Officer Daniel Pantaleo be fired for his role in the 2014 death of Eric Garner.

The judge found Pantaleo guilty of using a banned chokehold but did not find him guilty of intentionally restricting Garner's breathing. Garner's repeated cry of "I can't breathe" triggered national outrage and galvanized activists concerned about police use of force.

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.

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.

A federal appeals court in Manhattan says President Trump cannot block critics from his Twitter account, calling it "unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination."

The Australian student who was reported missing more than a week ago has been freed from detention in North Korea and has arrived safe and well in China.

Alek Sigley smiled at reporters upon arriving at the airport in Beijing Thursday, telling them he felt "great."

"I'm OK, I'm OK, yeah. I'm good. I'm very good," Sigley said as he was ushered through the airport.

Updated July 5 at 12:25 p.m. ET

There's a scene in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things where the skeptical police chief, Chief Jim Hopper, is at his desk chomping on an apple. He listens to a theory that a local teen may have been kidnapped by Russian spies. Fed up, he spits out the fruit, sticks a cigarette in his mouth and lights up.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

An airstrike on a migrant detention center in the Tajoura suburb of Libya's capital killed at least 44 people early Wednesday morning, according to the United Nations. More than 100 people were injured.

The strike hit a hangar within the Tajoura Detention Center, obliterating what had been a shelter that was housing roughly 120 people. The death toll has grown as local health authorities report casualties.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET

A federal judge in Seattle ruled Tuesday that asylum-seeking migrants detained for being in the U.S. illegally have the right to a bond hearing in immigration court rather than being held until their cases are complete.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said it is unconstitutional to indefinitely detain migrants who fled to the U.S. seeking asylum protections.

Lee Iacocca, one of the best known auto executives, died Tuesday. He was 94.

Iacocca was a top executive at two of America's largest car companies — Ford and Chrysler. His career spanned decades and several generations. He was known for developing the Mustang and bringing the minivan to scores of American family garages, as well as orchestrating a remarkable turnaround at Chrysler.

His daughter Lia Iacocca Assad confirmed his death to NPR in a phone call.

Customs and Border Protection has launched an investigation into a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents in which members posted derogatory remarks targeting migrants and lawmakers.

The White House condemned a deadly attack by the Taliban that rocked the Afghan capital Monday, leaving six people dead and more than a hundred others injured, as U.S. negotiators entered into another round of peace talks with senior members of the Islamic extremist group.

"This brazen attack demonstrates the Taliban's callous disregard for their fellow Afghans, who have repeatedly voiced the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict," the Trump administration said in a statement Monday night.

A woman charged in the death of her fetus after she was shot in the abdomen during a fight may not be prosecuted after all.

District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington called the incident in Pleasant Grove, Ala., a tragedy and said her office is deliberating whether to move forward with prosecution.

Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET

After a brief showdown over competing emergency humanitarian aid measures to alleviate the crisis at the southern border, the House voted 305-102 on Thursday to pass the Senate's less restrictive version of the bill.

The Senate had approved the legislation Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump supports the bill.

The Republican-led Senate passed its own version of an emergency aid measure, approving a $4.6 billion package to pay some of the costs of the surge of migrants crossing the southern border.

The vote Wednesday came minutes after the Senate handily rejected the Democratic-led House's $4.5 billion bill passed Tuesday night, signalling what will likely be a contentious battle between the two chambers to reconcile the bills.

Bill Wehrum is stepping down as the Environmental Protection Agency's chief air quality official at the end of the month, amid mounting scrutiny over possible ethics violations.

EPA Administrator Andrew Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday that Wehrum's departure as the head of the agency's Office of Air and Radiation is both voluntary and expected.

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