Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on the Navajo Nation Council passing a new law that expands tribal criminal jurisdiction over human trafficking cases:

“I commend the Navajo Nation Council for passing a new law that expands tribal criminal jurisdiction over cases of human trafficking. 

“Human trafficking targets the most vulnerable and at-risk individuals in our society and undermines the most basic form of human rights and dignity. This is not just a problem in urban areas or along our international borders. Native Americans living on Indian reservations are just as afflicted, but poor data collection and limited resources hinder prosecution and social awareness. 

“Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study that found that federal law enforcement agencies may be underreporting cases of human trafficking of Native Americans. GAO found that from fiscal year 2013 to 2016, there were only 14 federal investigations and two federal prosecutions of human trafficking offenses in Indian Country. Compare this to the 6,100 federal investigations and approximately 1,000 prosecutions that occurred elsewhere during the same time period. 

“While this accomplishment is an important step forward, more work remains on the Navajo reservation. I encourage the Nation to pursue tougher penalties and sentencing guidelines, along with enhanced training for tribal law enforcement officers to spot and report cases of human trafficking. 

“I encourage my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold formal oversight hearings into the issue of human trafficking on Indian reservations when the Senate reconvenes.”