Brent Barnett
4 hrs ago

(Washington, D.C.) – Iowa Senator Joni Ernst wants answers for the family of Sarah Root.

Root, a 21-year-old resident of Council Bluffs, was killed in January when her car was struck by another vehicle driven by 19-year-old Eswin Mejia of Honduras. Mejia—who was in the United States illegally—was later released from custody after posting $5,000 bond. He has not been seen since.

Ernst tells KMA News she recently spoke on the Senate Floor to demand answers as to why Mejia wasn’t detained after he was charged with motor vehicle homicide.

“Mejia should have clearly met the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s so called enforcement policies,” Ernst said. “Instead, ICE declined to lodge a detainer and take custody of Mejia, citing that at the time they were contacted, Sarah Root was only seriously injured and had not passed away. “

Ernst adds she feels the incident signifies flaws in the country’s immigration policies.

“Only after pressure from Congress and the media did ICE finally acknowledge that they should have taken Mejia into custody,” Ernst said. “Our immigration system has utterly failed Sarah and the Root family. I was able to meet with Sarah’s mother, Michelle, while she was in Washington to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. As a mother to three daughters myself, I cannot fathom the heartbreak of Michelle Root and her entire family.”

Ernst says the entire situation is unfortunate on many levels.

“This is truly a grave injustice,” Ernst said. “We must ensure we get answers in this case to prevent a similar tragedy from being replicated elsewhere.”

Ernst made her comments during a conference call with reporters late last week.