U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) on Thursday re-introduced Sarah’s Law – legislation to honor Sarah Root, an Iowan who was killed nearly one year ago by a drunk driver in the country illegally – in the 115th Congress. Since first introduced in June 2016, support for Sarah’s Law has grown with the addition of new original cosponsors: Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Congressman David Young (R-IA) will lead a House companion bill.
“It is unconscionable that nearly one year after Sarah’s death, Edwin Mejia remains at-large, and the fact remains that today U.S. immigration law does not require federal immigration authorities to detain those here illegally who harm American citizens,” Ernst said. “Although nothing can bring Sarah back to her family or heal the wounds of such unimaginable loss, we have an obligation to the American people to ensure that no citizen falls victim to this injustice again. Sarah’s Law is about honoring Sarah, and her legacy; I have already had conversations with the incoming administration, and am hopeful that they will work with Congress to pursue this legislation and finally get some long-overdue justice for the Root family.”
“No family should be forced to endure the pain that the Roots have felt since last year,” Grassley stated. “First, young Sarah’s life was cut short by an immigrant who disregarded the rule of law and decided to get behind the wheel after drinking. Then the Obama Administration refused to take custody of Sarah’s killer because it didn’t consider him a priority, allowing him to disappear into the shadows. The Roots have been robbed of their daughter, and at least for now, they have been robbed of justice. Our legislation, named in Sarah’s memory, will ensure that those who harm or kill Americans will be taken into custody and removed while also ensuring that victims and their families get the information they deserve from the government as they pursue justice.”
“Almost one year after Sarah’s tragic death, our prayers are with the Root family,” Fischer shared. “We’re continuing our efforts to address the failed policies that allowed Sarah’s killer to escape. Through Sarah’s Law, Congress can help keep our families and our communities safe.”
“Mr. Mejia has been on ICE’s Most Wanted List for more than nine months — that’s time he should have been behind bars,” Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. “Congress has an opportunity to make sure this never happens again. Sarah’s Law would make it absolutely clear that ICE must immediately detain any illegal alien who kills someone.”
“We are sadly hearing of these instances far too often,” Roberts added. “If the Obama administration won’t protect our citizens, Congress will make it clear illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes will be detained. We must do everything possible to prevent the pain Sarah’s loved ones and too many others have endured.”
“Sarah Root’s story is a heartbreaking one, which is why I support sensible immigration reforms like Sarah’s Law that can help ensure justice is served and our communities are made safer,” Thune stated. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump administration to enact these necessary changes so our immigration system operates more efficiently.”
“The failure to fix America’s broken immigration system puts lives at risk and justice out of reach,” Moran shared. “Sarah’s Law has the potential to reduce crime and save lives. This legislation would require the federal government to better prioritize its responses to individuals charged with violent crimes while in this country illegally – correcting current policies that leave unchecked criminals free to reoffend. I am glad to join this effort to keep our communities safe and will push for the bill’s passage in the 115th Congress.”
“The last eight years under the Obama Administration have seen a disastrous deterioration of the rule of law and an unwillingness to justly prosecute those who break our laws,” Cruz explained. “But now we have an extraordinary chance to reverse that course, secure our border, and strengthen our immigration laws. I am proud to be a sponsor of Sarah’s Law and other similar law enforcement measures that will deter illegal immigration, and ensure those who disregard our immigration laws and bring harm to our citizens are held accountable.”
“It is unacceptable that after a tragic event in which a young life was taken too soon, the out-going administration failed to act and an illegal alien with a criminal record now remains at-large,” Inhofe said. “Sarah’s Law gives us an important opportunity to reform the immigration system and bring about due justice. My thoughts and prayers are with Sarah’s family and I look forward to advancing this legislation that protects our communities.”
Update: This afternoon the bill was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen David Young (R-IA) and Don Bacon (R-NE).
“Sarah’s death is a tragedy which has left the Root family and our community in mourning,” Young said. “A criminal is now at large, following crucial failures in enforcing our laws. The federal government has failed Sarah, and we cannot allow this to ever happen again. While we cannot bring Sarah back, we can honor her memory with Sarah’s Law.”
“The sad fact is that if the federal government had enforced our immigration laws, Sarah would still be alive,” Bacon said. “A mothdder would still have her daughter to hold and love, whose life was full of bright and endless possibilities. As lawmakers, we can help in a small way to set the record right with Sarah’s law and prevent senseless tragedies in the future. This is the right thing to do.”
“We would just like to thank our Senators and Congressmen for working so hard on this law,”said Michelle Root, Sarah’s mother. “We thank you all for your support and for not giving up. Had this law been in place before Sarah’s death, we wouldn’t be trying to find her killer. This law may have Sarah’s name on it but it’s for all innocent victims that have lost their lives at the hands of illegal immigrants.”
About Sarah’s Law:
- Sarah’s Law is in honor of Sarah Root, a twenty-one year-old Iowan who was struck and killed in Omaha by Edwin Mejia, who entered the country illegally and was driving drunk – three times over the legal limit – and drag racing.
- Following state criminal charges of motor vehicle homicide and outreach by local law enforcement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declined to use its discretion to issue a detainer, and Mejia subsequently posted bond and has since disappeared. Now, nearly one year later,Mejia still remains at-large.
- Sarah’s Law would amend the mandatory detention provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to require the federal government to take custody of anyone who entered the country illegally, violated the terms of their immigration status, or had their visa revoked and is thereafter charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. The legislation also requires ICE to make reasonable efforts to identify and provide relevant information to the crime victims or their families.
- Under this law, Mejia would have been detained, not been allowed toflee from justice, and the Root family would be kept up-to-date on Mejia’s status and federal immigration authorities’ efforts to remove him from the United States.