United States Senators from Nebraska and Iowa say Congress needs to ensure immigration officials never again release a suspect in a deadly crash like they did earlier this year in wake of a fatal crash in Omaha.
Immigration officials failed to hold 19-year-old Eswin Mejia, an illegal immigrant suspected of street racing while drunk in Omaha when he slammed into the back of a SUV driven by 21-year-old Sarah Root of Council Bluffs, Iowa, killing her.
Sen. Deb Fischer co-sponsors “Sarah’s Law” which would require immigration officials to hold any illegal immigrant suspected in the death or injury of another.
“Hopefully, in the future, when we are able to pass this bill, we can make sure that these incidences, these situations, won’t happen to families in the future,” Fischer tells reporters during a conference call on the bill.
Root had just graduated with honors from Bellevue University in Omaha when the crash occurred during the early morning hours of January 31st.
The Omaha Police Department accuses Mejia of street racing when the fatal crash happened. According to officials, Mejia recorded a blood alcohol content of .241, three times the legal limit. Mejia is from Honduras and was considered by Douglas County officials to be a low risk of fleeing. Still, after posting 10% of his $50,000 bond to get out of jail February 5th, he has not been seen.
Sen. Ben Sasse says there’s no question Mejia should have been held.
“After he killed Sarah local law enforcement in Omaha said to ICE obviously we should detain this guy, he’s an illegal alien and he’s going to flee and ICE chose not to detain him,” according to Sasse.
Sasse calls the incident a miscarriage of justice that should have never happened.
Sasse and Fischer have joined Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst in sponsoring “Sarah’s Law.” Sen. Grassley says the four have sent a letter asking Homeland Security for information on Mejia to help in tracking him down, but federal officials have said that is protected information. Grassley insists ICE should release the information, claiming information on illegal immigrants is not protected.
“Sarah’s Law” would also require Immigration and Customs Enforcement to make reasonable efforts to identify and provide relevant information to the crime victims or their families.
Matt Kelley and Dar Danielson of Radio Iowa contributed to this story.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]