COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa—Michelle Root loved that President Donald Trump held a rally in her hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Oct. 9.
She has met with the president several times about illegal immigration and attended the rally to show her support.
“Just to show my support to our great president and everything he’s done for us,” Root said after the rally. “How he’s helping … people who have been affected by illegal immigrants.”
Root’s daughter, Sarah, was at a stop light on Jan. 31, 2016—the night of her college graduation—when a drunk, unlicensed driver, traveling almost 70 miles per hour in a 35-mile zone, slammed into her vehicle.
The man who killed her—19-year-old Edwin Mejia—was in the United States illegally. He was subsequently let out of jail on a $5,000 bond and has not been seen since.
At the Oct. 9 rally, Root was sitting right behind the podium, but she wasn’t sure whether the president spotted her in the crowd.
“A family friend did let him know that I’d be here to support him,” she said, but added that she wasn’t requesting any special treatment.
As with many loved ones of victims of illegal alien crime, Root has become an unintended activist against illegal immigration and sanctuary cities.
She has found support with congressmen from Iowa and Nebraska and was on stage with then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
Root said she hopes the Senate can pass legislation that has already passed the House.
The two bills she mentioned passed last summer, but have yet to hit the Senate floor.
One is Kate’s Law, named after Kate Steinle, who was fatally shot by an illegal alien in June 2015. The bill would increase the penalties for illegal aliens who attempt to re-enter the United States after deportation.
The second is the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which aims to punish officials who implement sanctuary policies in their jurisdictions.
“I still have high hopes that the Senate will do something,” Root said. “Because as far as our president, he’s done everything that he can do.”
She said she feels 100 percent supported by the administration.
“I appreciate everything he does, and I appreciate him standing firm and sticking to his guns and not backing down,” she said. “He’s keeping promises, and I respect that.”
Root attended the rally with Peggy Griffin, whose husband, Dan, received Sarah’s heart.
The two families met for the first time on July 29 this year, on Dan’s 64th birthday.
In a previous interview, Root said her son had recorded Sarah’s heartbeat before they took her down to donate her organs. “So, to have that, and to hear it beating again and tape record it, would be so, so special,” she said in an interview on Nov. 12, 2017.
Root said she had been nervous about meeting the recipient of Sarah’s heart.
“People always ask me if I’m nervous if I talk with the president or meet the congressmen or senators or anybody like that, and I always say no,” she said.
But this was different.
“I was nervous meeting them because it’s very important for me that they like me,” she said. “I don’t care if anybody else likes me, but they have a piece of my daughter, so I need them to like me.”
They do. Root said she has gained a family in the Griffins, which was evident by the sisterly bickering going on between her and Peggy after the rally.
“We instantly bonded, we’re like one big family now,” Peggy said. “It’s wonderful. It was hard at first, because I didn’t know how they would take meeting us, because you know, they lost a daughter, and I can’t even fathom that.”