Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) and Pamela Foster, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, discuss the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act on January 30, 2018. Photo: Rep. Andy Biggs

State of the Union guest pushes for AMBER Alert in Indian Country

The mother of an 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered on the Navajo Nation was among the guests at the State of the Union on Tuesday evening.

Pamela Foster has turned the loss of her daughter, Ashlynne Mike, into advocacy. She is pushing Congress to help tribes establish AMBER Alert systems on their reservations.

"I have been fighting for this protection to be enacted into law, and I am thankful that it is moving through the legislative process," Foster said of the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, which ensures that tribes are eligible for AMBER Alert grants for the first time.

S.772, the Senate version of the bill, cleared the chamber last November. It now awaits action in the House.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) on Twitter: AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act

"I believe that we are extremely close to passing this lifesaving law," said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), who is sponsoring H.R.2666, a companion version of the bill.

"No child – regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or birthplace – should be outside the protection and jurisdiction of the AMBER Alert system,” added Biggs, who invited Foster to be his guest at the State of the Union.

Ashlynne and her younger brother were abducted on the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation in May 2016 but the tribe was unable to inform the public about the missing children because it lacks an AMBER Alert system. Instead the alert had to be sent out through the state.

While Ashlynne's brother eventually found his way to safety, it was too late for his sister. She was sexually assaulted and murdered near Shiprock, New Mexico, by a tribal citizen who has been sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

The tribe, whose reservation spans three states and its the largest in the nation, has since finalized the process to implement an AMBER Alert system. But the rest of Indian Country would benefit if Congress takes the bill over the finish line.

"It is such an honor to attend this historical event," Foster said of last night's speech, which was the first one delivered by President Donald Trump.

She added: "I hope to use my time in Washington advocating for passage of this legislation in the House so that President Trump can sign it into law.”

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