(Sioux Center, IA) Sioux County Conservatives is pleased to announce the Pizza & Policy discussion on March 23 will center around illegal immigration and sanctuary county status for Sioux County. Center for Immigration Studies and the Iowa House Republican caucus consider Sioux County a sanctuary county. The event will be held at the Sioux Center Pizza Ranch and begin at 7 p.m.

Guest speakers will include Dordt College student Ryan McDermott along with Michelle and Scott Root, the parents of Sarah Root, who was killed in a car accident with an illegal immigrant. Joining the discussion will be Iowa State Representative Steve Holt (R-Denison), who is the floor manager assigned to House Study Bill 67 (a bill addressing sanctuary cities and counties in Iowa).

McDermott interned with Congressman David Young last summer. One of McDermott’s highlights in Washington D.C. was watching Sarah’s Law develop.

“We are looking forward for this opportunity to once again share Sarah’s story and the injustices done to her, her family and her friends,” McDermott said. “As a close family friend of Sarah and the rest of the Roots, this tragedy has prompted me to continue the fight for justice, the rule of law and a serious look at our broken immigration system.”

Root, 21 at the time, had been out celebrating her graduation from Bellevue University. As she stopped at a light, a Chevy pickup slammed into her and sent her SVU about 800 feet. The SUV was crushed so badly the rear and front had become fused.

Eswin Mejia, an illegal immigrant, was driving the pickup. His blood alcohol content was 0.241. He was charged with motor vehicular homicide later that day. However, a judge set his bond at $50,000. A relative managed to post the $5,000 to get out of jail and Mejia was released. He did not return for his mandatory drug screening and remains a fugitive.

Since then the Root family has advocated for a change to the law.

“You lose your loved one, and that’s pain in itself,” Michelle Root said. “Now we have the extra added pain of there’s no justice for Sarah because her killer is free.”

Holt believes HSB 67 is necessary in order to reinforce the importance of the rule of law, and to protect the citizens of Iowa.

Sioux County is considered a sanctuary county because Sheriff Dan Altena refuses to honor ICE Detainer Requests.

However, in 2011, at a Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion, Altena said:

“If I have somebody in my community that is not supposed to be there, legally, and as this group has wanted me to do — I just write them a ticket because they say their name is so-and-so — OK, I write them a ticket, let them go. If, a week later, they’re in just a basic traffic accident — not even a drunk driving accident, but they’re in a traffic accident and they end up killing somebody — I believe that’s on my shoulders. That’s my fault. Because I was supposed to do something about that person that was there illegally.”

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