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Lawmakers want to expand AMBER Alerts to US territories

They say Guam, American Samoa and others should be eligible for funding.

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Toronto Star via Getty Images

Two US lawmakers have introduced legislation that would help expand the AMBER Alert system to all territories, which include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Established nationally in 2003, the system sends alerts over TV, radio, digital billboards and cellphones and has helped find more than 900 missing children across the US. "AMBER Alerts have helped save hundreds of children. There's no good reason for US territories to be excluded from this system," said Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), who introduced the bill along with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). "With this bill, we can help children and their families quickly end the nightmare that is child abduction."

While Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands already participate in the AMBER Alert program, the US government only provided states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico with grant funding for the system's implementation early on. The new legislation calls for all US territories to be eligible for funding, the integration of territorial law enforcement agencies in the national system and the authorization of grants for AMBER Alert signs along major transportation routes.

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

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