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.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill allowing inmate firefighters to have their records expunged, clearing the path for them to be eligible for firefighting jobs upon release.

After more than 100 days of protests in Portland, there is fatigue and increasing anxiety heading into opposing Labor Day demonstrations as officials urge protesters on opposing sides to stop the violence.

Among labor organizers and Black Lives Matter supporters, who began convening on the city's streets to protest police brutality and social injustice following the killing of George Floyd in May, there is a growing sense of dread over a possible confrontation with pro-Trump groups.

A man charged with running a drug syndicate was offered a plea deal in July if he would name Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who had been killed by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment, as a member of his alleged criminal gang, according to the man's attorney.

The deal was one of several offered by prosecutors in the months after Taylor's death. All of which carried a penalty of 10 years and none of which were ultimately accepted.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents lack the training to take over the initial processing of asylum claims, a federal judge wrote in a ruling filed Monday.

For nearly 20 years, officers from Citizenship and Immigration Services have conducted all interviews with asylum-seekers and made what are called "credible fear determinations" for those who arrive at the nation's borders while fleeing to the U.S. to escape persecution.

President Trump, in a tweet Tuesday, said he will nominate Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to be DHS secretary.

Updated at 8:41 p.m. ET

Mei Xiang, the 22-year-old panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, has given birth to a cub.

"A precious giant panda cub has arrived!" officials announced Friday, adding that they are "overjoyed."

The latest addition to the zoo was born at 6:35 p.m. ET, and zoo officials said that Mama Panda "is caring for her newborn attentively."

"Positive mothering behaviors include nursing her cub and cuddling it close."

Updated 1:05 p.m. ET

Lightning strikes, extreme weather conditions, dangerous levels of smoke and ash, and a deadly pandemic are pushing firefighters and the communities they're trying to save into uncharted territory.

Firefighters are battling more than a dozen wildfires across California as a scorching heat wave continues to bear down on the state. And in the midst of record-breaking temperatures, rare lightning storms have also sparked a handful of new fires that continue to rage on.

"We are all experiencing rather extraordinary conditions," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday, adding that there are about 15 fires burning in the northern and southern ends of the state.

In a blow to gun control activists, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that California's ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines is unconstitutional, violating the Second Amendment.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel of judges found that such firearm magazines are protected arms under the Second Amendment and are not "unusual arms" that would fall outside its scope.

Gov. Brain Kemp is taking a new approach in his battle over face masks with Atlanta's mayor. Rather than have a judge rule on the conflict, he's going to issue a new order on the subject.

On Thursday Kemp announced the attorney general's office has withdrawn a lawsuit he filed against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, when she moved to reinstate more restrictive COVID-19-related safeguards.

Flanked by more than a dozen community leaders, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday that his office will not pursue cases against most Portland protesters.

The new policy states that only demonstrators who were involved in "deliberate property damage, theft or force against another person or threats of force" may face charges.

California's coffers are nearly exhausted, and forcing the state to cover a part of extended unemployment benefits would cause "enormous economic strife and enormous stress," Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday.

Despite the state's robust reserves at the start of the year, Newsom said, President Trump's latest executive action would put the state in a perilous position.

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration would "surge" federal law enforcement officials to help fight crime in Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the Justice Department's controversial Operation Legend.

Trump accused local politicians in the cities of not doing enough to address what he says are waves of crime as the public and some politicians call for the reduction of police department budgets.

Black mayors in many of the nation's largest cities on Tuesday formally called on governors to repeal orders prohibiting them from enacting strategies that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The African American Mayors Association passed a resolution beseeching state leaders to repeal any rules that prohibit local leaders from implementing strategies like requiring the use of face masks.

"State, local and tribal governments are uniquely positioned to determine the level of mitigation required to combat the virus in their communities," the resolution states.

The Justice Department has executed Dustin Lee Honken in Terre Haute, Ind., the third federal inmate put to death by the government this week.

Honken, 52, was sentenced to die in October 2005 after being convicted of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder — among them two small children — during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise.

A coroner pronounced him dead by lethal injection at 4:36 p.m. ET Friday.

At the time of his death, Honken had served more than 22 years in an Indiana prison.

Target and CVS are the latest national retail chains requiring customers to wear masks as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket.

The companies announced the new policies on Thursday following similar moves by a growing number of retailers acting to fill a void left by local, state and federal agencies that have so far refused to set mandatory face coverings policies.

As of Thursday, only about half of the country's states require masks in public places.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms following her efforts to require face masks in public places as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket across the nation.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, asserts that Kemp alone "leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic" and adds he has the power "to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders."

The Dakota Access Pipeline may continue to pump crude oil through South Dakota after a federal appellate court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a shutdown ordered by a lower court that was to begin next month.

Citing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, a federal judge has ordered that all children currently held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for more than 20 days must be released by July 17.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of California issued the scathing order Friday afternoon, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide even the most basic health protections for children and their families amid the pandemic.

She described the ICE-operated facilities as being "on fire," adding that "there is no more time for half measures."

Three former staff members of a Michigan youth home have been charged in the death of a 16-year-old Black boy. He died last month after employees sat on his chest, abdomen and legs in an effort to restrain him.

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