President Trump signs Ashanti Alert Act into law

Posted at 8:46 AM, Jan 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-01 12:24:35-05

WASHINGTON – The Ashanti Alert Act is now law.

President Donald Trump signed the legislation on Monday, December 31, the White House Office of the Press Secretary announced.

Formally known as H.R. 5075, the Ashanti Alert Act “requires the Department of Justice to establish a national communications network, to be known as the Ashanti Alert communications network, to assist regional and local search efforts for certain missing adults.”

The act passed passed the U.S. Senate in early December and passed the U.S. House of Representatives -its final step in Congress – on December 20.

After the legislation passed the U.S. House, Meltony Billie thanked the politicians and the Hampton Roads community who helped their family get through the tough time after his daughter’s death. Meltony is the father of 19-year-old Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old college student who was abducted from her job at JEB Little Creek in 2017.

“If you knew Ashanti, then you knew that you had a friend. I have said often that she never met a stranger. Though it has been hard coping with her leaving me, her earthly father, I have great joy knowing that she is with her heavenly Father and one day we will see one another again. I am eternally grateful for her life—a life well lived—because through the Ashanti Alert Act lives will be saved,” Meltony said. “I thank my family for carrying me when I began to weaken, I want to thank Michael Muhammad, Kimberly Wimbish, Attorney Don Scott, Delegate Jay Jones and his team, Congressman Scott Taylor and his team, Senator Mark Warner and his team, and I dare not forget about the Hampton Roads Community, and everyone who has being praying for my family.”

Similarly, Ashanti’s mother Brandy described the legislation as being “a beacon of hope for those that have a loved one deemed as missing under questionable circumstances.”

“We are elated that this legislation has been enacted. Just because my daughter’s life was tragically cut short, that doesn’t mean that my time as a mother, her mother is over; far from it. This federal legislation, the Ashanti Alert Act, is the first step in my current journey without my daughter by my side,” Brandy said.

Kimberly Wimbish, a spokesperson for the Billie family, announced in early November that U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) would officially introduce the act to the Senate.

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make the Ashanti Alert a federal law. The vote marked one year since then-U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) got involved in Ashanti’s case and announced his plans to push for a vote to take the alert national.

Taylor responded to the act becoming law on Twitter:

The Ashanti Alert Act was signed into Virginia law in June in Ashanti’s memory.

At the time, Billie was too old to be considered for an AMBER Alert, which is designed for abducted children, and too young for a Silver Alert, which is for senior adults.

Billie was found dead near a church in Charlotte, North Carolina, around two weeks after her disappearance.

After the House’s vote in September, Ashanti’s family says the Ashanti Alert will not only be a way to remember their daughter, but also a way to keep her greatest passion in life alive: helping others.

“It will be like a hug from her. Every alert will be a hug: ‘Hey Mom, I’m here. I’m helping people, Daddy, I’m here; I’m helping someone else.’ It was her passion,” said Brandy Billie.

A Hand to Hold 2023

Help find these kids in Virginia’s foster system loving homes

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.