One of the key moments of Donald Trump's speech Thursday night came when he spoke about 21-year-old Sarah Root while criticizing immigration policies. Root, he said, was "just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders." Trump said a "border crosser" had killed Root, though he didn't provide details, and the Washington Post fills in some background: Police say that 19-year-old Eswin Mejia, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, was drunk when he slammed his pickup truck into the back of Root's SUV at a high rate of speed in January of this year. Mejia, who was believed to be drag racing at the time, posted bond days later and hasn't been seen since. Root was from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and had graduated from Bellevue University near Omaha the day before the crash. Related coverage:
- Mejia entered the country illegally as a 16-year-old in 2013, and border agents first encountered him Nogales, Ariz. He was designated an unaccompanied child and sent to live with his brother in advance of an immigration hearing, reports Fox News. The family eventually moved from Tennessee to Omaha.
- Why was he allowed to post bail after the accident? "A World-Herald review of Mejia’s case shows a systemic failure—from county pretrial release staff to the county judge to federal immigration enforcement officials—to ensure that the man charged with felony motor-vehicle homicide in Root’s death would answer in court to the charge."
- The Des Moines Register also did a deep dive into the case, reporting that, prior to the fatal crash, Mejia had failed to appear in court for two earlier driving infractions.
- See more details about Root and the case at Heavy.com.
- Root's family released a statement thanking Trump for mentioning her, per KMTV.
- A critic at Slate, however, thinks "the way Trump’s speech uses her death is one of the greatest shames of this convention." Read it here.
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