Albuquerque, NM – September 23, 2020
SWLC commends the U.S. House for passing the Not Invisible Act and the Savanna’s Act, and further encourages President Trump to sign the bills into law
The Southwest Women’s Law Center (SWLC) commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Not Invisible Act (S. 982) and Savanna’s Act (S. 227) on September 21, 2020, moving them to either be signed into law or vetoed by President Donald J. Trump.
The SWLC encourages President Trump to sign both bills into law. The bills address missing and murdered Indians on tribal lands. U.S. Congresswomen Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), tribal member of the Laguna Pueblo and Sharice Davids (D-K.S.), tribal member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, are two of the four co-sponsors of the Not Invisible Act. The Not Invisible Act (NIA) establishes a joint commission of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Department of Justice. It would also establish a coordinator within the BIA to combat violence by coordinating efforts, grants, and programs related to the murder of, trafficking of, and missing Native Americans. It will also create a Joint Commission on Reducing Violent Crimes Against Indians, which will include Tribes, States, and Federal officials, the Indian Health Service, urban Indian representatives, survivors and family members of missing and murdered Native Americans, among others.
The Savanna’s Act, on the other hand, clarifies responsibilities of federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies with respect to responding to cases of missing or murdered Indians. It also calls for increased coordination and communication among the various law enforcement agencies, including medical examiner and coroner offices. The bill aims to address the jurisdictional complexities that Indian Country face. The bill also aims to empower tribal governments with the resources and information necessary to effectively respond to cases of missing and murdered Indians. It also aims to increase the collection of data related to missing and murder Indian men, women, and children regardless of where they reside and the sharing of information.
Terrelene Massey, Esq. (Navajo), SWLC Executive Director, believes that both the Not Invisible Act and the Savanna Act are needed to better protect Native American women, children, and girls, especially those living on tribal lands. Massey says that the bills “are complementary to one another, they provide a comprehensive approach to address missing and murdered Indians among state, tribal, federal and local levels, and further they take steps to prevent human trafficking.” The bills also aim to coordinate the jurisdictional arms of federal, state, tribal and local authorities so they can better work together rather that creating gaps. The SWLC commends the House and the Senate for passing these bills, and now encourages President Trump to sign them into law.
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