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Bills Addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Relatives Move Through Senate

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Chris Nordstrum (415) 601-1992

January 29, 2022

SANTA FE — Yesterday (January 28), Senate Bill 13, a measure to establish an annual event in support of residents who are searching for missing relatives, passed unanimously on the Senate Floor. The event, sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, will provide an opportunity for federal, state, local and tribal governments to be in one location and assist families in filing missing persons reports, update missing persons reports, submit DNA records or meet with investigators.

The legislation stems from recommendations brought forth by New Mexico’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR) Task Force in the Indian Affairs Department.

New Mexico has the highest number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls cases in the country. A report by the state’s MMIWR Task Force estimates that a total of 287 Indigenous women were reported missing in New Mexico between 2014 through 2019.

 “All too often, society and law enforcement neglects to draw the same attention to crimes against our Indigenous, Latina, Black, and trans women as it does to our white, cisgender sisters. This bill will help unite us as a community to bring attention to this inequity and provide better access to the resources needed to help solve these crimes and bring justice to families,” said bill co-sponsor and member of the MMIWR Task Force Senator Linda M. Lopez (D – Albuquerque). “The fact that this bill was the first measure passed in the Senate this session sends a strong signal that this issue is of vital importance to the state, and I am committed to seeing that this momentum continues beyond one moment in time.”

The late Senator John Pinto, Senator Shannon Pinto’s grandfather, in 2019 introduced a memorial bringing attention to this issue and offering support to then-Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s national investigation into the plight of families with missing or murdered women. That same year the task force was created, charged with making recommendations on how to address the problem and end this violence. Earlier this year Governor Lujan Grisham grew the task force and increased its scope.

“This effort represents the next important step in addressing our country’s failure to adequately report cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and relatives” said bill sponsor and fellow task force member Senator Shannon Pinto (D-Tohatchi). “I would like to thank the members of the task force, the Indian Affairs Department, Governor Lujan Grisham, and all of the legislators and fellow supporters who listened to the call from my grandfather and now honor his legacy by working together to bring real solutions to this problem. This event, coupled with the legislation I’m sponsoring in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office, brings both attention and the action we need to address this terrible crisis.”

Senate Bill 12, also sponsored by Senators Pinto and Lopez, is another piece of legislation aiming to address the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Relatives by ensuring more effective coordination between law enforcement agencies, improved data collection, education and training. SB 12 also provides grant funding to the sovereign tribes of New Mexico to create a platform for information sharing with the State Missing Persons Clearinghouse for MMIW.

Senate Bill 13 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Senate Bill 12 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday January 31.

MMIW Resources and information:

AG Press Release on Senate Bill 12: