IA & NE Senators Introduce Sarah’s Law:Legislation to honor Sarah Root


June 30th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Republican U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley, along with Nebraska Republican Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, have introduced “Sarah’s Law,” legislation to honor Sarah Root, an Iowan who was killed earlier this year by a drunk driver in the country illegally. Sarah’s Law would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take custody of an individual who is in the country illegally and is charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. (A pdf of the bill can be found here: )

On the night of her graduation, a vehicle driven by 21-year old Sarah Root, from Council Bluffs, was hit in Omaha by Eswin Mejia, who entered the country illegally and was driving drunk – three times over the legal limit – and drag racing. Root died from injuries she suffered in the crash. Following state criminal charges of motor vehicle homicide and outreach by local law enforcement, ICE declined to use its discretion to issue a detainer requesting that local authorities hold the individual until it could take custody. Mejia subsequently posted bond and has since disappeared. Nearly five months later, Mejia still remains at-large.

The Senators say 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.

Joint-Efforts by the Iowa and Nebraska Senators to Obtain Justice for Sarah Root:

· On March 25, 2016 the Iowa and Nebraska Senators demanded answers from ICE Assistant Secretary Sarah Saldana on why the agency did not detain Edwin Mejia after he killed Sarah Root in a drunk driving incident.

· On April 27, 2016 the Iowa and Nebraska Senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell demanding to know who was monitoring Edwin Mejia as he entered the country illegally as an unaccompanied minor.