The new law requires the U.S. Department of Justice to focus on prosecuting hate crimes against Asians after an increase in attacks.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to combat the rise in hate crimes against Asians during the coronavirus pandemic, and sent the bill to President Joe Biden on Tuesday for signature.
The measure, previously passed in the Senate, was passed by an overwhelming majority in the House, 364-62. The new law orders the U.S. Department of Justice to focus on prosecuting violent crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
In the past year, U.S. police have experienced an increase in racially motivated crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including a March shooting in Georgia. he killed six women of Asian origin.
“For more than a year, Asian Americans across our nation have been calling for help,” Rep. Grace Meng, the main sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
“We’ve all heard the sick stories and seen the horrible videos of Asian Americans being beaten, cut and spit out,” Meng said when the bill passed the Senate by a 94-1 vote.
U.S. law enforcement and Asian advocates have linked the increased hate crimes against Asians to the political rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and other Republican politicians who blamed the pandemic on China.
Hate crimes are notorious difficult to process. The bill provides a hotline for local prosecutors seeking guidance in such cases and training for law enforcement.
It also includes the “NO HATE” Jabara-Heyer Act, which improves the reporting of hate crimes by law enforcement and expands community assistance and resources for victims of such crimes.
The event is named after Khalid Jabara, a Lebanese American who was killed by a racist neighbor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2016, and Heather Heyer, who died in a vehicle attack during a march of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Both attacks were initially not classified as hate crimes, but would be under the new law.
In California and New York, there have been homes in large Asian American populations alarming incidents of violence against people of Asian descent.
In March, a 75-year-old Asian American man, Pak Ho, died after being pushed to the ground while walking in the morning near his home in Oakland. A suspect faces charges of assault but not any hate crime.
In New York, there was a 65-year-old Filipino woman attacked in broad daylight as she walked down the street through a man who kicked her in the stomach and trampled her head. The incident was captured in a security video. She survived and he was arrested.
Last year, an Asian immigrant and his two young children were stabbed and cut while shopping for groceries in Midland, Texas.
The monitoring group, Stop AAPI Hate, reported 3,795 incidents nationwide between March 2020 and February 2021.