Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) takes part in an organizational meeting of the House Committee on Natural Resources on January 29, 2019. Photo: House Committee on Natural Resources: Democrats
Haaland’s Bill to Increase Focus on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Moving to President’s Desk

Washington, D.C. – Monday evening, a bill led by Congresswoman Deb Haaland (N.M.-01) to address the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis passed by a voice vote on the House Floor and will be moving to the President’s desk. If signed into law, the Not Invisible Act of 2019 will be the first bill in history to be introduced and passed by four members of federally recognized tribes: Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna), Tom Cole (Chickasaw Nation), Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk Nation), and Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee Nation).

This historic bill will increase focus on addressing the silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. Full text of the bill is available here.

“All women deserve to live without fear of disappearing without a trace, but the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis persists and indigenous people continue to go missing. Today, we moved to say ‘enough is enough’ and passed the Not Invisible Act, which includes efforts to get meaningful input from the survivors of these horrific crimes and Tribal leaders to ensure law enforcement has the guidance it needs to address missing persons cases from people who know the issue first hand. A real solution to this crisis will never be found without the explicit inclusion of survivors, which is what is so special about this bill. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate who helped move this bill forward, so that it has a chance of becoming law,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

“Including survivors of crimes in Indian Country to help guide the efforts of law enforcement to find others is a great first step in rescuing missing indigenous women and children before it is too late,” said Congressman Tom Cole, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. “As homicide leads as the number one cause of death for Native women and children, I am proud to see the federal government work to create solutions to end this horrific epidemic. I applaud the passage of this important legislation.”

“I’m extremely proud to have worked with my colleagues to help address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native women and girls, who experience violence at higher rates than any other female population in the country. The Not Invisible Act is an important step to protect women and children and improve law enforcement efforts to combat this crisis. I urge the President to quickly sign the bill into law,” said Congresswoman Sharice Davids.

“The silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women is wreaking havoc on our families and our communities,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin. “Our priority must be to protect native women and children and all parties have to work together to end this epidemic of violence. The Not Invisible Act will give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to address the crisis and will help prevent our sisters from becoming a statistic. I was proud to cosponsor this bill and I look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law soon.”

The Senate companion bill, led by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) passed the Senate floor in March by unanimous consent and was taken up and passed by the U.S. House Monday.

“For years, the epidemic of missing, murdered and trafficked Native women and girls has been ignored across the country. And for too long, Congress has failed to address this crisis. Too many Native women and their families have not received justice. That is simply unacceptable. Today’s House passage of my bipartisan Not Invisible Act begins to change that stark reality. By improving coordination where it matters—between the federal government, law enforcement tribal governments and community leaders—we are addressing the root of the problem and getting to work to prevent these tragedies. I thank my colleagues in the House for their work on this important legislation and look forward to the President signing it into law,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.

“Too many families have faced unspeakable loss as Native women have gone missing, murdered, or trafficked and let down by the complex law enforcement systems currently in place to protect them. So many Native people have called on Congress to address the crisis. I also know human trafficking is a horrifying reality across the state of Alaska, and it is disproportionately affecting Alaska Native communities,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “The Not Invisible Act paves the way for greater collaboration between federal agencies, law enforcement, and elected tribal officials, ensuring Alaska Natives and survivors have a voice in developing methods to end these horrible crimes. Through partnerships, coordination, and pooling resources we can turn the tide of women and girls falling victim to this epidemic.”

Currently, the leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native Women between ages 10 and 24 is homicide, and American Indian and Alaska Native women experience murder rates 10 times the national average. A 2016 National Institute of Justice report states that more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaskan Native women (84.3 percent) have experienced some form of violence in their lives. The Not Invisible Act of 2019 is a step toward addressing this crisis.

The Not Invisible Act of 2019 would establish an advisory committee on violent crime composed of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and 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 would create a position for an expert within the Bureau of Indian Affairs charged with improving coordination of violent crime prevention efforts across federal agencies.