In one of his final acts of 2018, President Donald Trump signed a bill that could have far-reaching consequences for the loved ones of people who have gone missing.
Trump signed the Ashanti Alert Act, named for Ashanti Billie, 19, of Virginia Beach, Virginia. She went missing last year in Norfolk and was later found dead in North Carolina, according to American Military News.
After her disappearance, family members said they thought some form of alert could have saved her. However, at age 19, Billie was too old to be covered by the Amber Alert system.
“The Ashanti Alert will fix that void. Unfortunately, it’s too late to help our daughter, but we know that the Ashanti Alert, she will continue to help others. Her legacy will live on,” Brandy Billie said in September. “Her life wasn’t in vain, it was for a purpose.”
That’s why the Ashanti Alert Act was introduced by Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia last year. Its goal is to locate a missing adult between the ages of 18 and 65.
Thank you @realDonaldTrump for signing the Ashanti Alert Act into law. As a result many American lives will be saved. My daughter, Ashanti is smiling down on us. Her unfortunate death was not in vain. #AshantiAlert
— Brandy Billie for “Ashanti Alert” (@ashantihome) January 2, 2019
Taylor said the new alert system “will give law enforcement all across our great nation a new tool to give resources to bear to locate missing adults who may be in danger and will no doubt save lives,” CNN reported.
The Senate later also approved the bill.
“Out of this dark tragedy, light & hope will come for families across country in 2019,” @Scotttaylorva wrote after President Trump signed the federal Ashanti Alert Act into law on Monday. https://t.co/NXJSTCVURA
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) January 1, 2019
“Despite the tragic loss of Ashanti Billie, with the love and support of Meltony and Brandy Billie along with the Hampton Roads community, the Ashanti Alert Act is now law of the land,” said Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. “In this New Year, it is my hope that this important law enforcement tool can help save countless lives.”
Taylor issued a similar statement after Trump signed the bill into law.
#breaking Had an emotional conversation w/Brandi Billie, mother of Ashanti & spoke w/her father Meltony. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for signing #ashantialert into law on this NYE. Out of this dark tragedy, light & hope will come for families across country in 2019. @MarkWarner pic.twitter.com/URsxPX49Eb
— Scott Taylor (@Scotttaylorva) December 31, 2018
“Out of this dark tragedy, light and hope will come for families across the country in 2019,” Taylor tweeted Monday after Trump signed the legislation.
Eric Brian Brown, a homeless Navy veteran, has been charged in connection with Billie’s death.
“We are elated that this legislation has been enacted … The Ashanti Alert will be a beacon of hope for those that have a loved one deemed as missing under questionable circumstances,” Billie’s mother, Brandy Billie, said in a statement. “Our dream is to bring as many as possible of those missing back home safely.”
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