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Press Release

Readout from United States Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez’s Listening Session with New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Aja N. Brooks, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, met with representatives from the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (NMCSAP). Alexandria Taylor, Executive Director, Virginia Pérez-Ortega, Director of Community Collaborations, Kim Benally, Director of Tribal Sexual Assault Services, and Rachel Cox, Director of Technical Assistance, presented statements. The listening session focused on building a partnership between NMCSAP and the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) and how that partnership could benefit tribal and rural communities in New Mexico.

NMCSAP is a network of 15 sexual assault programs and 11 sexual assault nurse examiner programs which provide education, support, and advocacy to survivors, service providers, the media, non-profit and governmental organizations that prevent and respond to sexual violence in New Mexico. In October, NMCSAP received a $950,000 grant from the Department Of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Alexandria Taylor opened the session by speaking about NMCSAP’s recent accomplishments, including advocating for increased funding for sexual assault programs, tribal research, and a statewide sexual assault hotline. Taylor also highlighted expanded services to Alamogordo, Hobbs, Carlsbad and Grants, and the integration of the New Mexico Children’s Alliance, which supports eleven children’s advocacy centers around New Mexico, into the coalition.

Speaking to his office’s priorities, USA Uballez explained that the USAO had developed a Tribal Liaison Program. Under the program, an Assistant United States Attorney from the Indian County Crimes Section is assigned as a liaison to each of the 23 Tribes in New Mexico and tasked with building and maintaining government-to-government relations. USA Uballez hopes that building relationships with tribal communities will decrease instances of domestic violence and sexual assault. USA Uballez also expressed that he hoped a partnership with NMCSAP would expand the USAO’s outreach, prevention, training and coordination efforts, specifically in relation to crimes against children, sexual assault and domestic violence in tribal communities.

Taylor and Benally shared that prior to 2021, there was no funding for sexual assault services available to tribal communities. Over the course of one year, NMCSAP is supporting 6 different tribal communities that received Federal funding for sexual assault services and are now focused on mobilizing the systems around these services and also helping to secure funding for the 17 remaining tribes in New Mexico. Taylor and Kim expressed a need for training on the investigation and legal process and how to facilitate communication between the agencies and the victims and their families.

 Pérez-Ortega and Cox brought attention to the lack of services available to human trafficking victims and shared that New Mexico’s unique position on the border makes our state a promising national leader in developing programs. NMCSAP offered to use their expertise and relationships to help the USAO build initiatives and projects that support victims and connect them to expert witnesses who have insight into both the trauma experienced by human trafficking victims and the unique perspectives of New Mexican communities. 

 Taylor explained that Victim of Crime Act Awards (VOCA) funding is currently at the lowest level since 2006 and may face more reductions in FY2025. VOCA funds programs that provide an array of services to victims of crimes, and reductions in funding would result in fewer direct services, and possibly a closure of multiple programs. Taylor requested assistance from USA Uballez to ensure funds are being directed to VOCA, explaining that statewide coalitions across the country are also asking the United States Attorneys in their district to do the same. USA Uballez responded he would be willing to fight for more funding and seek other funding resources. 

USA Uballez closed the session by expressing that he was excited to partner with NMCSAP and that his office looks forward to working with them to facilitate connections, relationships and training.

6 people sitting around a table
three women sitting at a table

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Updated December 1, 2023

Human Trafficking
Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 23-275