RECAP: Haaland Bills to Address Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
WASHINGTON, D.C – As the country observes National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress, released a recap of the bills and amendments she has introduced to take a comprehensive approach to tackle the silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. Full recap is below:
- Not Invisible Act of 2019: (HR 2438) First bill in history to be introduced by four enrolled members of federally recognized tribes, Representatives Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna), Tom Cole (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin), and Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee Nation). The Not Invisible Act of 2019 seeks to establish an advisory committee on violent crime comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, and service providers survivors to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice. The bill also seeks to establish best practices for law enforcement on combatting the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and designates an official within the Bureau of Indian Affairs charged with improving coordination of violent crime prevention efforts across federal agencies. Most importantly, the advisory committee reserves a seat at the table for both human trafficking survivors and family members of a murdered Native American.
- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2019: (HR 1585) To address sexual assault and domestic violence and includes provisions to address violence against Native women. Rep. Haaland was successful in amending VAWA to provide resources to Native women and combat the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women by: 1) providing victim advocate services to urban Indians in state courts; and 2) expanding information sharing between public safety departments in Indian Country by bolstering accessibility to the Tribal Access Program (TAP) database to ensure all law enforcement agencies share information to keep survivors of domestic violence safe. VAWA passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
- SURVIVE Act (Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment Act): (HR 1351) To address the need for tribal victim assistance by creating a tribal grant program within the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. In addition to ensuring that tribal governments can access the Victims of Crime Fund (VOCA) resources on equal footing to state, the bill also empowers Tribes and Indian victims of crime by: expanding the types of victim assistance, services and infrastructure for which the funds may be used, including domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs. This bill was included in the 2019 VAWA reauthorization.
- Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act of 2019: (HR 2029) To improve cooperation between Tribes and law enforcement. The bill directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a full review of how federal agencies respond to reports of missing and murdered Native Americans and recommend solutions based on their findings. It also calls for the inclusion of database research to assess the availability/need for data collection; law enforcement jurisdiction across tribal and state lines; and recommendations/best practices for improving communication.
- The Native Youth & Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA): (HR 958) To ensure children and law enforcement in tribal communities are protected in instances of domestic violence. The bill reaffirms tribal inherent authority over child abuse and crimes that are committed against police officers and other justice officials respond to domestic violence calls and was included in the 2019 VAWA reauthorization.
- Savanna's Act: (HR 2733 ) To create new guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and incentivize their implementation. The new bill builds on previous versions of Savanna's Act by expanding the requirement for the creation of law enforcement guidelines to all U.S. Attorneys, not just those with Indian Country jurisdiction, and requires such guidelines to be regionally appropriate. It also requires the Attorney General to publicly list the law enforcement agencies that comply with the provisions of the legislation. Finally, it includes a new implementation and incentive section that provides grant authority to law enforcement organizations to implement the provisions of the legislation and increases the amount of those grants for those that comply.
- The Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act: (HR 3977) To restore inherent tribal criminal jurisdiction to prosecute domestic violence-related crimes committed against American Indian and Alaskan Native women by non-tribal members within Indian Country to protect victims and deter future violent crimes on reservations.
- The BADGES for Native Communities Act will address barriers that stand in the way of improving the efficiency of law enforcement agency data sharing and officer recruitment and retention – both of which are imperative to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. The bill will also ensure Tribes can continue important public safety programs that work to increase protections for Native communities by making them permanent.