President Biden signs bill addressing hate crimes against Asian Americans with overwhelming bipartisan support

Carter Mudgett, Government Reporter

Today, President Joe Biden signed a bill with fantastic bipartisan support that addresses the significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AP Photo via Damian Dovarganes, File

The bill titled the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, passed by a 364-62 vote in the House of Representatives with all opposing votes from Republicans earlier this week. Last month, the Senate approved the bill in a 94-1 vote. 

Introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, establishes that “the Attorney General shall designate an officer or employee of the Department of Justice whose responsibility during the applicable period shall be to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes and reports of any such crime to Federal, State, local, or Tribal law enforcement agencies.”

AP Photo via Susan Walsh

Ahead of the vote, Meng spoke on the House floor:

“For over a year against the backdrop of a raging COVID-19 virus and an economic crisis, Asian Americans have been fighting an additional pandemic: the virus of hate and bigotry,” she began. “Over 6,600 incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against those of Asian descent have been reported since March 2020.”

“The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a necessary step to confront the second pandemic of racism and discrimination. We cannot mend what we do not measure,” she concluded. 

A recent news survey taken by the Pew Research Center found that 32% of Asian adults say they have feared threats or physical attacks, with “the vast majority of Asian adults (81%) also [saying] violence against them is increasing.”

Graphic of Pew Research Center news survey results, via Pew Research Center website

The survey results found that, in response to an open-ended question, “some 16% [of people] cited racism in the United States against Asian people as the source of violence, and another 15% said the rise in violence is due to COVID-19 and its impacts on the nation.”

Prior to Biden’s signing, Vice President Kamala Harris reflected on recent violence against Asian Americans.

This violence — it did not come from nowhere, and none of it is new. In my life, my lived experience, I have seen how hate can pervade our communities,” she said. 

Harris highlighted the importance of continuing to combat racism following the signing of this bill. 

“Here’s the truth: Racism exists in America. Xenophobia exists in America, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia — it all exists. And so the work to address injustice wherever it exists remains the work ahead,” she concluded.

“My message to all of those who are hurting is: We see you and the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias,” said President Joe Biden.


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