ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Five New Mexico lawmakers are urging the state attorney general to establish a task force focused on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. This comes after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham quietly disbanded a previous task force dedicated to addressing this national crisis. The lawmakers have introduced Senate Joint Memorial 2 to bring attention to this ongoing issue, especially as Indigenous women in the state have the highest homicide rate among all ethnic groups.
During this year’s 30-day legislative session, which is primarily focused on the state budget and the governor’s priorities, the lawmakers were limited to proposing a memorial, which is not legally binding. This reflects their strong commitment to addressing the problem despite these limitations.
The disbanding of the previous task force had drawn criticism from its members, who felt that their work was just beginning. The decision, according to the memorial, left many questions unanswered, signaling the unresolved nature of this issue.
The new task force, if approved, would be responsible for updating a state response plan delivered in 2022 and providing ongoing legislative recommendations. This shows a proactive approach to maintaining a comprehensive strategy in addressing the crisis.
The proposed task force would consist of no more than 40 members, including Indigenous survivors and affected families, tribal leaders, service providers, and law enforcement. The attorney general’s office is seen as a suitable home for the task force, given the need for coordination among various jurisdictions in addressing cases of missing or murdered Indigenous people.
The Senate Rules Committee will be the first to weigh in on the memorial, although the scheduling of this review has not been confirmed. This legislative effort reflects a strong commitment to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people in New Mexico, aiming to hold state agencies accountable for their response to this crisis.