WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, welcomed passage of a bill he cosponsored to expand the AMBER Alert warning system in Indian Country. The AMBER alert in Indian Country Act 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 (D-Ariz.) would amend the PROTECT Act to make permanent the current Tribal AMBER Alert pilot program and extend it to all Indian Tribes, allowing them to manage and operate their own comprehensive AMBER Alert systems. The bill also authorizes the grant program under the U.S. Department of Justice to make Indian Tribes eligible for grants that put AMBER Alert systems in place for law enforcement agencies.
“This [the Ashlynne Mike] tragedy reminds us that we need to do more to protect our children from predators. We need to use every tool available to ensure that these appalling events do not repeat themselves. The AMBER Alert system has proven to be an effective tool in combating child abductions, and I applaud Senator McCain’s leadership to address this issue by introducing S. 772,” Udall said prior to the vote. “Every second a child is missing is potentially life threatening and we need to make sure information gets out to law enforcement and the general public quickly. My hope is that this bill will help achieve that.”
With a unanimous vote, the Indian Affairs Committee advanced the bill to the full Senate.