WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced that the full Senate passed the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017 by unanimous consent late Wednesday. The bill comes in response to the tragic abduction and murder of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike on the Navajo Nation in 2016 – when authorities did not issue an AMBER Alert until a day after Ashlynne’s abduction was reported.
The bipartisan legislation led by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) would make the Tribal AMBER Alert pilot program permanent and extend it to all Indian Tribes to manage and operate their own comprehensive AMBER Alert systems. The bill also authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to make Indian Tribes that put AMBER Alert systems in place for law enforcement agencies eligible for grants.
“Unfortunately, the AMBER Alert was issued too late to save Ashlynne. No words can adequately express the sadness and anger we feel at the senseless act of violence that took her from her family and community and deprived her of a bright future,” Udall said. “We have a moral responsibility to ensure Native children like Ashlynne receive the same protections as all other children. The AMBER Alert system has proven to be an effective tool throughout the U.S. in combating child abductions and we must ensure that Tribes are on a level playing field when it comes to providing these basic services. My hope is that this bill will help achieve that, and I applaud Senator McCain’s leadership to address this issue.”
The AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2017 was part of a legislative package, which also included the following bills:
H.R. 228, Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017
S. 343, Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act
S. 669, Columbia River In-Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites Improvement Act
S. 1285, Oregon Tribal Economic Development Act
S. 245, Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017
S. 825, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2017
S. 302, John P. Smith ActS. 254, Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act