© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa Mother Wants Immigration Reform

WIKICOMMONS / Ser Amantio di Nicolao
ICE headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

An Iowa woman who lost her daughter in a car crash allegedly caused by an undocumented Honduran immigrant testified before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Michelle Root says her daughter Sarah was killed on the day she graduated college by Edwin Mejia, who was drag racing while intoxicated.

Root says due to the Obama administration’s immigration policies, Mejia was able to post bail and then possibly fled the country after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency declined to detain him.

"The local law enforcement did their, they detained him, went to ICE, tried to get a hold on him. ICE refused," saysRoot. "I don't know why that was, with everything that happened, but he is on the loose now, so our family does not have closure."

Root wants legislation passed that would force ICE to take an undocumented immigrant into federal custody upon the request of local law enforcement.

"This case has shed light on the breakdown between the federal government, and state and locals," saysRepublican Sen. Chuck Grassley. "How many more people have to die?"

ICE says Mejia’s charges didn’t make him an enforcement priority, and that local officials should have requested a higher bond to prevent Mejia from fleeing the country.

According to the latest reportfrom the U.S. Justice Department, approximately four percent of the total federal and state prison population were immigrant inmates.