US Senators from NE, IA introduce "Sarah's Law"

Posted at 1:31 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 19:15:14-04

A Council Bluffs woman, allegedly killed in a fatal DUI crash as the hands of an undocumented immigrant, is the reason for legislation being introduced by U.S. Senators from Nebraska and Iowa.

“Sarah’s Law” would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take custody of undocumented immigrants when they’re charged with killing or seriously injuring someone.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Senator Chuck Grassley, Senator Ben Sasse, and Senator Deb Fischer introduced the bill to honor Sarah Root.  Root, 21, was struck and killed on January 31, 2016 near 33rd and L St.  Police say Eswin Mejia, a teen in the country illegally from Honduras, was three times the legal limit for intoxication and was drag racing when he struck Root’s vehicle.

Mejia was later arrested as let out on 10% of a $50,000 bond.  ICE did not put a hold on Mejia because he had not been convicted of a crime, even though he’d been charged with a felony resulting in death.  Mejia hasn’t been seen since February.

"Very frustrating because it's not justice for Sarah, she lost her life she is not here with us and he's still living breathing and eating," Sarah's mother, Michelle Root explained. "We were trying to find him every way possible when they had him. Our family shouldn't have to go through trying to get resources together to try and locate him, or increase his reward amount."

“Sarah’s Law” would amend the mandatory detention provisions to require ICE to act when a person in the country illegally is arrested for a crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury.

“It is an outrage that our immigration system has become so convoluted that someone who came here illegally or overstayed their visa and is responsible for the death of an American citizen, is not considered an enforcement priority and is not detained. While nothing can relieve the Root family of their pain, we must honor Sarah and ensure that this injustice never happens again.  Under this law, Mejia would have been detained by ICE and held accountable for his actions. Sarah’s Law brings us one step closer toward restoring justice,” Sen. Ernst explained.

The legislation would also require ICE to make responsible effort to identify and provide information to the victims or their families.