Listen to KID NewsRadio’s full interview with Michelle Root at the 2018 Hold Their Feet to the Fire Broadcast from Washington D.C.
WASHINGTON D.C. — Sarah Root was celebrating graduation from college the night Eswin G. Mejia, an illegal immigrant, slammed into her car at over 70 miles an hour and ended her life.
Authorities would later discover Mahia had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .241 and was street racing on a 35 mile an hour road when he hit Sarah Root. First responders declared Sarah brain dead, authorities arrested Mahia and a judge set bond at $50,000.
But, Sarah’s mom Michelle Root told KID NewsRadio, Nebraska law allowed Mahia to only come up with 10 percent of the bond amount and it wasn’t long before he walked free, never to be seen again.
“He had priors,” Michelle Root told KID NewsRadio. “He had a warrant issued for his arrest in May of 2015, my daughter turned 21 in May of 2015, for failure to appear. Yet a judge decided that the bond of $50,000, but 10 percent was five, and in Nebraska you don’t have to secure the other $45,000. So, he got off on $5,000 and ICE refused to detain him.”
Since her daughter’s death and Mahia’s disappearance, Root has become a voice for tightening restrictions surrounding immigration and the United States’ borders. Now, Root said, she stands shoulder to should with other “angel mothers,” and “angel families.”
“Illegal immigration is a political issue, and the more we hide these things, the less people think it’s an issue until it happens to them,” Root said. “We need to educate the public, and I’m tired of them using immigrants. They are not immigrants, they are illegal aliens. They’re not undocumented. They’re not any of that. They are illegal aliens.”
Root said her views on immigration haven’t changed because of Sarah’s death, but rather have deepened the beliefs and feelings she already held.
“Sarah’s grandmother came over from Vienna, Austria after World War II, and it’s something that we’ve had people in our family that have immigrated to the United States the proper way, and we’ve just expected that of everybody else,” Root said. “So, it’s not just a view that we just started after Sarah’s death. That’s a view we’ve always had, something we’ve always demanded. We just got stronger voices after Sarah died.”