Brent Barnett
9 hrs ago

(Council Bluffs, IA) -- Several Iowa and Nebraska senators continue to seek justice for the family of Sarah Root.

"Sarah's Law" is based on an incident last January involving 21-year-old Sarah Root of Council Bluffs, who was struck and killed in Omaha by a car driven by Eswin Mejia, who entered the country illegally. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, along with Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) recently re-introduced Sarah's Law. Ernst tells KMA News that Mejia was later released from custody after posting $5,000 bond. He has not been seen since.

"Following state and criminal charges, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) declined to use its discretion to issue a detainer," Ernst said. "Mejia was then released and has since disappeared. It is unconscionable that nearly one year later he remains at large, and that our immigration law does not consider him an enforcement priority."

Ernst says the legislation behind Sarah's Law would be straight forward.

"Anyone who enters the country illegally, violates the terms of their immigration status, or has their visa revoked and is thereafter charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person will be taken into custody by federal immigration authorities."

Ernst adds that current U.S. immigration law does not require federal authorities to detain those in the country illegally who harm American citizens.

"The legislation also requires ICE to make reasonable efforts to identify and provide relevant information to the crime victims or their families," Ernst said. "This law is about honoring Sarah's legacy. I have already had conversations with the incoming administration regarding its importance. I'm hopeful they will work with Congress to pursue this legislation and finally get some long overdue justice for the Root family."

According to police records, Mejia was drag racing at the time of the crash and was three times over the legal limit.

Sarah's Law gained additional support in 2016 from senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Thune (R-SD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Iowa 3rd District Congressman David Young has also announced plans to lead a House companion bill on the issue.