Chair Grijalva Applauds Newly Released GAO Report on the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) issued the following statement on the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he and other members of Congress requested on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis. The GAO report found that MMIW cases are often underreported due to mistrust of law enforcement, a lack of intergovernmental coordination, and a shortage of accurate data.

The report recommends several ways law enforcement agencies at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) can improve their efforts to address this crisis.

“The GAO has affirmed what we have known for a long time – that the federal government’s response to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women has been inadequate and lacks a basic understanding of the scope of the crisis,” Grijalva said. “The Biden administration made history by appointing Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior. To support Secretary Haaland’s efforts, it is critical that the Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland follow her lead by prioritizing this issue and that both agencies implement GAO’s recommendations.”

The GAO report, first requested by Chair Grijalva and 16 other members of Congress in May of 2019, finds that DOJ and DOI should implement requirements for increased intergovernmental coordination and data collection. The report recommends the agencies fully enforce the Not Invisible Act—which Haaland introduced as a House member in 2019—and Savanna’s Act, introduced by Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), both of which became law in 2020. 

Both bills were introduced following multiple hearings (see here and here) on the issue led by Chair Grijalva and the Natural Resources Committee.

Earlier this year, the House passed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021, which includes provisions meant to help address the MMIW crisis.

In addition to legislative action, DOI established a Missing & Murdered Unit within the Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, dedicating new resources and leadership to this critical issue. As the GAO report makes clear, the Biden administration needs to increase its efforts to address this crisis as required by law.

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