Senator Cornyn

Cornyn, Ernst Reintroduce Sarah’s Law As Biden Administration Rolls Back Immigration Enforcement

January 28, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) joined Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) today in reintroducing Sarah’s Law, named for a young woman who was killed by an illegal immigrant that was released by federal law enforcement due to a loophole in the law. The bill would require federal law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants criminally charged with killing or seriously injuring another person.

“While many enter the United States in search of a better life, those who come across our border and commit vicious crimes must be brought to justice,” said Senator Cornyn. “Sarah’s Law will help ensure justice is delivered to the families of their victims and that these dangerous criminals will never again hurt anyone else.”

Sens. Cornyn and Ernst are joined in the effort by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), and John Thune (R-SD).

Background on Sarah’s Law:

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.