Missing child notification system doesn't cover U.S. territories
Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo has introduced the AMBER Alert Nationwide Act (H.R.6350). This bipartisan bill authorizes federal funding to integrate U.S. territories into the national AMBER Alert system, which mobilizes the American public in response to cases of missing, abducted, or exploited children.
The legislation is co-sponsored by CNMI Delegate Gregorio 'Kilili' Camacho Sablan, Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa and Delegate Stacey E. Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
It is also supported by the nonprofit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The 2003 federal law establishing the national AMBER Alert system did not provide federal funding for all U.S. territories to implement AMBER Alerts. Only the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which each have sections of the federal interstate highway system, were provided this funding that was available to the 50 states.
Cong. Bordallo’s AMBER Alert Nationwide Act would direct the U.S. Department of Justice (coordinating agency for national AMBER Alert program) and the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide federal grant funding to help all U.S. territories implement the AMBER Alert program, on a voluntary basis.
Bordallo’s bipartisan bill would also provide flexibility for the territories in using this new federal grant funding and authorize federal funding for AMBER Alerts signage and similar public communication systems in major transportation hubs such as airports, maritime ports, customs checkpoints, and other ports of exits. Current federal law limits federal AMBERT Alert grants to signage along roadways only.
Bordallo’s bill seeks to make AMBER Alert a truly nationwide system, building upon the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, signed into law in April 2018. The Congresswoman’s bill will enable law enforcement to better interdict cases where children from U.S. territories are abducted and attempted to be brought aboard illegally, without the consent of both parents or legal guardians.
“Our bill will protect Guam’s children, and all children in the territories, under the national AMBER Alert system. The new federal funding provided by our bill will help the Guam Police and Fire Departments better train for and respond to cases of missing and abducted children,” said Bordallo.
“A truly nationwide AMBER Alert system must include Guam and all U.S. territories, and that’s exactly what our bill does. Congress just expanded AMBER Alert to include Indian reservations and tribal law enforcement agencies, and we should finish the job by passing my bipartisan bill this year,” continued Bordallo.