Iowa, Nebraska Senators introduce "Sarah's Law" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa, Nebraska Senators introduce "Sarah's Law"

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COUNCIL BLUFFS (KWWL) -

They believe the law failed... one reason why their daughter won't be celebrating the 4th of July with them this weekend.

Sarah Root -- from Council Bluffs -- was killed in a drunk driving crash. Police believe the driver was in the country illegally.

A 21-year-old college graduate with a 4.0 GPA and a promising future killed. A 19-year-old undocumented immigrant arrested in her death, released from jail for posting $5,000 dollars of a $50,000 bond. He hasn't been heard from since.

That's the exact scenario the Root family is living with everyday.

"It's been a lot for us to take on but it was never not an option for us," said Scott Root, Sarah's father. "That's our baby girl and she deserves justice and she's going to get it."

Now four U.S. Senators from Nebraska and Iowa introduce "Sarah's Law" hoping to fix the problem that allowed Edwin Mejia to get out. It would make U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detain any illegal immigrant who's arrested for a crime involving someone killed or seriously injured.

"It won't help us but it will help the next family that has to go through this," said Michelle Root, Sarah's mother. "There will be another family that has to go through the same thing we have by losing someone to an illegal immigrant."

Before Mejia was released from jail, Omaha police asked ICE to put a hold on him because they believed he would flee. ICE didn't because he wasn't convicted.

Senators Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley, Ben Sasse, and Deb Fisher introduced the bill, and say the loophole needs to be closed.

"As a mother and a grandmother, I cannot fathom the anguish Sarah’s family is feeling knowing Edwin Mejia was released and remains at-large," said Senator Ernst. "It is an outrage that our immigration system has become so convoluted that someone who came here illegally or overstayed their visa and is responsible for the death of an American citizen, is not considered an enforcement priority and is not detained."

"By refusing to take custody of illegal criminal immigrants who pose a clear threat to safety, this administration is putting Iowans at risk," said Senator Grassley. "Criminals must be taken off the streets. It’s time for this administration to rethink its policies and start enforcing the law."

"ICE must detain them," said Senator Ernst. "They will not have that disgression to decide that this person was not a priority and we believe that Edwin was a priority and should've been detained."

Neither the Senators nor the Root family have heard much about what's being done to capture Mejia, but they'll continue to do all they can for their daughter.

"Our family is not going to stop until justice is served at every level," said Scott Root.

The legislation would also require ice to make reasonable efforts to identify and provide information to victims or their families.

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