Rep. Greg Stanton sharply questioned Attorney General Merrick Garland about the lack of adequate Department of Justice efforts to combat the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today.
Stanton said that President Joe Biden made commitments regarding making MMIW cases a higher priority during his campaign for president that have not been carried out by the Justice Department.
“It does not appear that you have used your platform to help make this a top priority, nor has DOJ really moved the needle on this issue since your confirmation,” Stanton told Garland.
During the hearing, Garland acknowledged that the Justice Department has not considered growing the FBI’s Indian Country Program, which has fewer than 150 Special Agents who serve 574 federally recognized Tribes and 326 Tribal reservations.
“I can see why so many Native American families feel like their missing or murdered loved one does not matter to the federal government,” Stanton said. “We have unique trust responsibilities to our Tribal Nations and rarely, if ever, has our federal government delivered.”
Stanton went on to press the Attorney General to account for the difference in the scale of federal law enforcement’s response to missing and murdered white women and women of color, which has become a topic of national conversation since the disappearance of Gabby Petito.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse for not giving equal treatment to native and indigenous missing persons,” Garland responded.
Arizona has the third-highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The Justice Department has reported that Native American women face murder rates more than 10 times higher than the national average. Four out of five Native women are affected by violence in their lifetimes.
Stanton has been vocal on the topic and questioned FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on the Bureau’s efforts at a hearing in June of this year.
Video of Stanton’s questions to Garland is available HERE.