In her first hearing as a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) questioned the nominee for U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, on “restoring the rule-of-law” in our immigration system, combating human trafficking, and curbing the influx of drugs coming into Iowa and the nation.
In her questioning, Senator Ernst announced she would be reintroducing her bill, known as Sarah’s Law, before the end of the month. Ernst’s legislation, named after Sarah Root of Council Bluffs who was killed by an illegal immigrant driving drunk, would require the detention of illegal immigrants who have been charged with a crime that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. Barr called the bill “commonsensical” and one he would be inclined to support.
Senator Ernst also questioned Barr about what he sees as the main contributor to human trafficking in the United States and what the Department of Justice can do to combat and prevent these crimes. She pointed out that human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, generating an estimated $32 billion annually.
Senator Ernst asked Barr about how he would help curb the drug epidemic in Iowa and the United States, and specifically what he would do to stop the crisis at the southern border where methamphetamine and other substances continue to pour into the country.
Lastly, Senator Ernst highlighted the desperate need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) is housed within the Department of Justice. In the 2017 Fiscal Year, Iowa was awarded $8.7 million from 13 OVW programs.