House to pass bill to tackle hate crimes against Asian Americans
U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) speaks at a press conference on the U.S. Capitol regarding the COVID-19 hate crime law, in Washington, May 18, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
The House plans to pass a bill on Tuesday to stem a spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hate Crimes Covid-19 Act would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of hate crimes related to the pandemic. Amid challenges in documenting violence and harassment against Asian Americans, the measure also aims to give local law enforcement more resources to track incidents.
Representative Grace Meng, New York Democrat and co-author of the bill, said that “the past year and a half has been a year of pain and struggle, marked by despicable and disgusting acts of hatred and violence. against the Asian American community “.
“The Asian-American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks. Asian Americans are tired of living in fear and fear that their children or elderly parents will come out. “she told reporters on Tuesday. “People often ask what Congress is doing about this, and we’re here today to say Congress is taking action.”
Biden has backed the bill and plans to sign it. Last month, the Bureau of Management and Budget said the measure would “uphold American values by standing firmly against anti-Asian xenophobia and hatred.”
Racist comments about the origins of the virus in China have led to scapegoats and violence against Asian Americans in the roughly 14 months since the start of the pandemic. Former President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress contributed to the wave of inflammatory rhetoric about China when Covid-19 first reached the United States.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans reported to police rose 164% in 16 of America’s largest cities in the first quarter of 2021 from a year earlier, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Some activist groups have questioned how effective the Hate Crimes Bill would be in eliminating the root causes of violence against Asian Americans, according to NBC News. Organizations have partly voiced concerns that better reporting of hate crimes will not be enough to prevent violence.