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Ernst, Feenstra Continue the Fight to Pass Sarah's Law

In honor of the life of Sarah Root—a young Iowan killed by an illegal immigrant released by federal law enforcement due to a loophole in the law.

WASHINGTON – On the 8th anniversary of Sarah Root’s death, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) continue their fight to pass Sarah’s Law amidst President Biden’s unprecedented border crisis.

On January 31, 2016, the night of her graduation, Sarah Root, a 21-year-old from Council Bluffs, Iowa, was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk – three times over the legal limit. Due to a gap in federal law, Sarah’s killer was released by federal law enforcement and never faced justice.

“Sarah should be in her late twenties, enjoying life and chasing her dreams. Instead, eight years later, her loved ones are still mourning. No parent should have to endure the pain and injustice of losing a child like the Root family did. That’s why, since 2016, I’ve been working to pass Sarah’s Law,” said Ernst. “Under this bill, Sarah’s killer would have been detained by law enforcement and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As we witness illegal immigrants pour into the country under Biden, this commonsense bill will ensure that those who murder or recklessly cause harm to others are held accountable. Our laws should not prioritize illegal immigrants over the safety of Americans.”

“Eight years ago today, Scott and Michelle Root received a phone call that is every parent’s worst nightmare. Their 21-year-old daughter – Sarah – was killed in a car accident by an illegal immigrant who was driving while drunk. However, instead of being held in jail and prosecuted for his crimes, the illegal immigrant posted bail, was released from prison, and was never seen again,” said Rep. Feenstra. “In memory of Sarah, I’m working with Senator Ernst to pass Sarah’s Law so that illegal immigrants who seriously injure or kill American citizens are detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – not released from jail without facing a jury. Our bill will make illegal immigrants answer for their crimes and deliver some semblance of justice for the Root family as we all continue to mourn Sarah’s premature and tragic death.”

Sarah’s Law amends the mandatory detention provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain illegal immigrants criminally charged with killing or seriously injuring another person. It also adds a requirement that upon encountering an illegal immigrant subject to mandatory detention, ICE makes reasonable efforts to identify victims and inform their families of certain information.

Read the full text of the bill here.