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On 7th Anniversary of Sarah Root’s Death, Ernst, Feenstra Renew Push for Sarah’s Law

Their bill is named in honor of Sarah Root—a young Iowan killed by an illegal immigrant who was ultimately released by federal law enforcement due to a loophole in the law.

WASHINGTON – On the 7th anniversary of Sarah Root’s death, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) are renewing their push to honor Sarah by introducing legislation to close a loophole that allowed her killer to walk free.

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.

“Because of a small loophole in our law, for seven years now, Sarah’s killer has walked free, and the Root family has been robbed of justice,” said Ernst. “It is unacceptable that someone who is here illegally and commits such a heinous crime is not considered an enforcement priority nor is detained by the proper authorities. This straightforward bill would ensure that illegal immigrants responsible for these crimes cannot slip into the shadows and instead will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Simply put, it’s quite possibly the most commonsense reform we can make.”

“Seven years ago today, 21-year-old Sarah Root was killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk – the tragic result of Democrats’ open-border policies. Instead of being prosecuted for his crimes, he was released from custody and never seen again,” said Feenstra. “No family should have to endure the pain of losing a child like the Root family did. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce Sarah’s Law with Senator Joni Ernst to hold illegal immigrants accountable for their actions and swiftly detain and punish those who break our laws.”

“I appreciate Senator Ernst, Representative Feenstra, and all those who continue to introduce this commonsense law to honor my daughter each year on the anniversary of her death,” said Michelle Root, Sarah’s mother. “There should be no partisan opposition to this legislation and it amazes me to hear anyone is against this effort; I truly do not understand why it hasn't passed. We must prioritize the safety of American citizens over illegal aliens.”

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 full text of the bill here.