Biden signs measure aimed at combating anti-Asian hate crimes
On May 20during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and following overwhelming support from both chambers of Congress, President Joe Biden signed legislation that addresses hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis on the increase in violence against Asian Americans, according to NPR.
Before signing, Biden tweeted, "Hate has no place in Americaand I look forward to making that clear this afternoon by signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law."
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, aims to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages.
It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19; and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
"This violenceit 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," Vice President Kamala Harris said. Harris, who is the first Asian American vice president, added, "I have seen how hate can impede our progress. And I have seen how people uniting against hate can strengthen our country."
According to CNN, 62 Republican U.S. House members (including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn and Jim Jordan) and one GOP senator (Josh Hawley, of Missouri) voted against the measure.
Wade Hendersoninterim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rightssaid in a statement, "By signing this historic legislation into law, President Biden has taken another crucially important step to address the terrifying spike in hate crimes targeting the Asian American community and other people of color, religious minorities, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.
"Through this important civil rights bill, President Biden and Congress have sent a powerful message that we must center communities targeted for hate and invest resources to meet their needs. While this is an important victory with meaningful measures to combat hate crimes, there is no question that more must be done to address white supremacy and the serious threat it poses to our nation."