Amber Alerts to be expanded into Indian Country
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill that expands child abduction warnings to Indian reservations in the nation has passed the U.S. Senate and is on its way to President Trump for his signature.
U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John McCain, R-Ariz., announced that their bipartisan bill to expand Amber Alerts are critical for law enforcement efforts to quickly disseminate information about abducted children to generate leads as quickly as possible. Currently, such alerts are not available in many parts of Indian Country or are limited to tribal lands.
By making tribes eligible for Amber Alert system resources, law enforcement and government officials on the local, state and tribal stage will better be able to coordinate to find and rescue missing or abducted children, particularly if they have been taken off of their reservation, the two senators said.
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 the girl until the day after family members reported her abduction. According to the FBI, more than 8,000 children are listed as missing in Indian Country.
Heitkamp is still working on Savanna’s Act to help address the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women. That bill is named after the pregnant Fargo woman, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was killed and had her baby, who is still alive, taken from her.