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Mother of Sarah Root testifies on Capitol Hill

Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 18:18:35-04

A Council Bluffs mother mourning the loss of her daughter at the hands of a suspected drunk driver from Honduras, took her heartbreaking story to federal lawmakers to change immigration laws.

Michelle Root was one of four people to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as part of a hearing entitled, “The Real Victims of a Reckless and Lawless Immigration Policy.”

Since the death of 21-year-old Sarah Root back in January, local lawmakers have been urging congress to change immigration laws. 

“This case has shed light on the breakdown of the federal government and state locals," said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley on Monday.

Prosecutors say Root was killed by 19-year-old Eswin (Edwin) Mejia while he was driving drunk.  Mejia was in the country illegally.  On Tuesday, Congress heard the most compelling testimony yet. 

"Sarah was my only daughter, she was 21.  She had just graduated from Bellevue University with a 4.0,” said Michelle Root.

Root’s mother Michelle testified in front of Congress in hopes of providing a better understanding of the public safety threat posed by criminal aliens and the tragic consequences that happen when immigration laws are not enforced.

“Local law enforcement did their job.  They detained him, went to ICE and tried to get a hold on him, ICE refused,” said Root. 

Mejia was arrested and charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide.  But, he was able to post $5000 bond because Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, did not put an immigration hold on him.  ICE did not view Mejia as a threat. 

Mejia is now missing.  The Root family is left to mourn and question how this happened.

“The arrest and conviction of Edwin will not bring Sarah back, but it will give our family some closure and knowledge that justice has prevailed,” said Root. 

Root’s mother emphasized that her family is not against immigration; Sarah’s grandmother was a legal immigrant from Austria.  The Root family wants the government to punish those who broke the law by coming to our country illegally and continue to break the law while here.