This story is a staff report from The Paper.

On Thursday, Attorney General Hector Balderas and State Senator Shannon Pinto, (D-McKinley & San Juan) announced legislation addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives. In 2020, the New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force (MMIWR) released a report highlighting the generational failures and numerous atrocities plaguing missing and murdered Indigenous persons. In response to the findings in the report, the AG’s office crafted legislation with Senator Pinto to combat cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women, including those being trafficked.

“The horrific, tragic plight of missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives is something we need to focus on collaboratively statewide,” said Pinto. “This partnership will build a bridge for victims and their families seeking justice. Every individual’s humanity should be valued and respected – this measure is an important step in conveying that to all the people of New Mexico.”

New Mexico has the highest incidents of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the country, with over 500 cases.

The proposed legislation would resolve many of the problems highlighted in the report by ensuring more effective coordination between law enforcement agencies, improved data collection, education and training while providing grant-funding to improve reporting of missing persons cases. The bill also provides for greater transparency in the continued investigation and prosecution of cases involving missing Indigenous persons to highlight the scope of the problem and the steps taken by public agencies in responding to this issue.

“New Mexico leads the nation in violence against Indigenous women with the greatest number of reported cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous persons,” said Balderas. “I have appointed an investigator, prosecutor, and victim services to take action and seek justice for families that have been suffering for far too long, including partnering with great stakeholders statewide that have been building momentum to address this tragic issue.”

The Office of the Attorney General, through Assistant Attorney General Delilah Tenorio, has been an active member in the MMIWR.