The United States has seen an increase in racially motivated crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed anti-hate crime legislation to direct federal law enforcement to address an increase in violent attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are simple basic values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is together against hatred and against racism, “Biden said at a White House ceremony attended by Democratic lawmakers and administration officials.
The new law seeks to expedite the review of the Department of Justice’s anti-Asian hate crimes and designates a department official to oversee the effort. It is important to highlight to enforce anti-hate crime laws, which will facilitate reporting to victims of all types of hate crimes and provide training to local and state officials.
The measure had passed both houses of Congress with a large majority of votes. It was passed 94-1 in the Senate and 364-62 in the House of Representatives. The new law orders the U.S. Department of Justice to focus on prosecuting violent crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Biden praised Democrats and Republicans in Congress for working together to enact the law.
“We just haven’t seen this kind of bipartisanship in Washington for too long. You are showing us that our democracy can work and achieve for the American people, ”the president said.
In the past year, U.S. police have seen an increase in racial crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including a March shooting in Georgia that killed six women of Asian descent.
“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 horrific videos of Asian Americans being beaten, cut and spit on,” Meng said.
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.
The bill provides a hotline for local prosecutors seeking guidance in dealing with hate crime cases and training to enforce the law.
Hate incidents against Asian Americans have seen a shocking rise over the past year. He is wrong and is anti-American.
To all those who hurt: we see you and pledge to stop hatred and bias.
– President Biden (@POTUS) May 20, 2021
The legislation signed Thursday by Biden also includes the Jabara-Heyer “NO HATE” law, which seeks to improve the reporting of hate crimes by law enforcement and expand community assistance and resources for the victims of these crimes.
The act is named after Khalid Jabara, a Lebanese American who was murdered 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.
The bill also requires the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue good practice guidelines on how to reduce discriminatory language based on the race used during the pandemic.