WASHINGTON – As the Biden Administration is rolling back immigration enforcement and reversing President Trump’s executive order prioritizing prosecuting illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and others to reintroduce “Sarah’s Law.”
The legislation, which is named after Sarah Root—an Iowan killed by an illegal immigrant who was released by federal law enforcement due to a loophole in the law and never faced justice—requires federal law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants criminally charged with killing or seriously injuring another person. In just his first week in office, President Biden reversed the Trump Administration’s executive order that includes parts of Sarah’s Law.
“Five years ago, a loophole allowed an illegal immigrant who murdered a young Iowan to escape the country and justice. We need families in Iowa, and across the country, to know that the federal government will do everything possible to hold murderers accountable. Sarah’s Law brings us one step closer to restoring justice in our broken immigration system by allowing federal law enforcement to detain and prosecute violent criminals,” Ernst said.
“The tragic death of Sarah Root and the search for her killer underscore the serious attention border security and immigration enforcement require in America. Sarah’s life was cut short by an undocumented immigrant who disregarded the rule of law and decided to get behind the wheel after drinking. The Obama/Biden Administration refused to take custody of Sarah’s killer because it didn’t consider him a priority, allowing him to disappear into the shadows. Sadly, it appears the Biden Administration is now seeking a return to the failed and dangerous immigration policies of the Obama years. The Roots have been robbed of their daughter, and at least for now, they have been robbed of justice. Our legislation, named in Sarah’s memory, will ensure that those who harm or kill Americans will be taken into custody and removed while also ensuring that victims and their families get the information they deserve from the government as they pursue justice,” Grassley said.
“Sarah’s family is very grateful to have such a compassionate senator like Senator Ernst. She has continued to push for Sarah’s Law every year, around Sarah’s death date; she never gives up on this. This is such a common-sense law and I truly can’t understand why it hasn’t passed. This law is not just about Sarah but also about the tens of thousands out there just like her. We truly appreciate Senator Ernst’s continued fight for the rule of law and honoring our beautiful daughter Sarah,” said Michelle Root, Sarah Root’s mother.
Other cosponsors of Sarah’s Law include U.S. Senators Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Mike Braun, R-Ind., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rick Scott, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-S.C., and John Thune, R-S.D.
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. Under this law, Sarah’s killer would have been detained by law enforcement and not allowed to flee from justice. The Root family would have been kept up-to-date on his status and federal immigration authorities’ efforts to remove him from the United States.
In January 2017, President Trump implemented major parts of Sarah’s Law via Executive Order, which included prioritized detention of criminal illegal immigrants and the creation of the Office of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. President Biden revoked this order on his first day in office. Passage of Sarah’s Law would codify the order into law, to prevent future administrations from deprioritizing the detention of illegal immigrants who commit crimes involving death or serious bodily injury and restricting information to victims of such crimes.
In August, Senate Democrats blocked Ernst’s attempt to pass Sarah’s Law.