MMIP crisis: Senators hope to pass bills to look into missing and murdered Indigenous people

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SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico lawmakers are hoping they’ll be able to pass bills that would help address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. They want more resources and a special office to investigate these cases that aren’t getting enough attention.

Advocates for victims and families say this problem has gone on far too long, as far back as colonization.

In New Mexico, a MMIW Task Force found 91 unsolved cases for natives from 2014 to 2019.

"I believe there is a severe under-count of the actual number," said state Sen. Shannon Pinto.

"When you look at the national statistics that are in existence, New Mexico is number two in the country," said state Sen. Linda Lopez.

There are two bills now at the Roundhouse gaining steam, Senate Bill 12 and Senate Bill 13. Lopez and Pinto, both Democrat state senators, are sponsors of both.

Senate Bill 12 would create a missing Indigenous person specialist position in the Office of the Attorney General. That person would work with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies on these cases.

Senate Bill 13 would create a "Missing in New Mexico Event," every year, where public safety officials would share information on cases, gather statistics and release information to the media.

Sen. Lopez says there are disparities in the amount of attention given to missing Indigenous person cases compared to others. She pointed to the tragic national headlining case of Gabby Petito, who went missing last summer and was found murdered.

"Why is so much attention given to this one particular person when we have reported so many of our own Indigenous women and family members missing and no attention has been given," Lopez said.

The co-sponsors say there is support for both bills, but even if it doesn’t pass, the push for more resources won’t stop.

Track SB 12 during the legislative session.

Track SB 13 during the legislative session.