Vanessa Romo | WCAI

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.

A huge new marine heat wave has gripped the waters off the U.S. West Coast, threatening to ravage marine life and decimate commercial fishing over an expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

The new hot spot rivals "The Blob" — a gigantic patch of unusually warm water that appeared in nearly the exact same spot in 2014.

Updated at 2:14 p.m. ET Tuesday

One day after a dive boat erupted in flames, killing at least 34 people, authorities are suspending their search efforts for survivors. At a news conference Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said the bodies of 20 victims — 11 female and 9 male — have been recovered from the wreckage, while divers are still trying to recover the remains of several other victims they have spotted in the waters near California's Channel Islands.

Updated at 5:5o p.m. ET

For the first time, a U.S. military court judge in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has set a trial date for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four men charged with plotting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Judge W. Shane Cohen, an Air Force colonel who took over the case in June, said the trial should begin on Jan. 11, 2021, though a number of other deadlines would need to be met for the long-delayed trial to begin.

It turns out that in Maryland, reeking of marijuana is not sufficient probable cause for police to arrest and search a person.

In a unanimous ruling earlier this week, the state's Court of Appeals determined two police officers violated a man's Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unreasonable warrantless search of his person, after police found him in a car that smelled like pot.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned two Democratic U.S. congresswomen from visiting the country and the Palestinian territories this weekend, according to a government official.

Israeli radio reported that in an interview, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the country would bar entry to "those who reject our right to exist in the world."

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez has been sworn in as governor of Puerto Rico, ending for now the latest dizzying developments in Puerto Rican politics.

Pedro Pierluisi, who was just sworn in as governor on Friday, was removed from office because the commonwealth's Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that his swearing-in was unconstitutional.

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.

This week's news that descendants of the notorious Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger planned to exhume his body prompted widespread head-scratching.

Why, people wondered, after Dillinger's immediate family went to such great lengths to ensure the outlaw's body would never be disturbed — burying him under 3 feet of concrete — would his living relatives demand he be taken out of the ground?

The answer: They suspect it's not him in the grave.

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.

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