Apr 13 2018
Washington, D.C. – President Trump today signed into law the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, legislation championed by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) that will expand the AMBER Alert child abduction warning system on Native American reservations.
“I am gratified the President has signed into law our bipartisan Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act,” said Senator McCain. “This legislation addresses serious gaps in current law that have prevented tribes from quickly issuing AMBER Alerts and helping children like Ashlynne escape tragedy. We must ensure tribes have the resources they need to improve public safety, and this bill will expand and expedite child abduction alerts so we can help victims and save lives.”
“This bipartisan success will fix a weak link in our ability to find and protect children who have been abducted or run away from Indian Country, and I’m gratified the president has now signed the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act into law,” said Senator Heitkamp. “Senator McCain shares my passion for protecting children and improving law enforcement in Indian Country, and this bill will give law enforcement more tools to solve and prevent crimes and keep children safe.”
The bill is named for Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year old Navajo girl who was abducted and murdered in 2016. In that high profile case, authorities did not issue an AMBER Alert for Ashlynne until the day after family members reported her abduction. Tragically, thousands of other kids like Ashlynne living on Native American reservations have fallen victim to abduction. According to the FBI, more than 8,000 children are listed as missing in Indian Country today.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) currently operates a pilot program that offers AMBER Alert training services to Native American tribes, but the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act makes that initiative permanent and enhances DOJ oversight of how the grants are used. The legislation also reauthorizes the DOJ grant program that assists state and local governments in developing and implementing AMBER Alert communication plans. These communication plans are used by law enforcement agencies to expedite child abduction alerts to the public. The bill also requires the DOJ to perform a needs assessment of AMBER Alert capabilities on Indian reservations.
Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tom Udall (D-NM) also cosponsored the legislation.