Asians COVID-19 hate crimes bill in May

Coming in a few weeks at the House of Representatives full house vote. The bill still needs to pass the House to make it to President Joe Biden’s desk. It was going to be debated in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but its chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., postponed that discussion until the Senate voted, meaning the legislation is unlikely to go to a full House vote for at least a few weeks. 

After last month’s mass shooting in Georgia that killed eight people – six of whom were women of Asian descent – lawmakers in both chambers of Congress pushed to expedite the legislation and called for quick action. The bill just passed the US Senate with only One Republican Senator opposing it on a vote of 94-1. Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., a co-author of the legislation, said at a rally with Schumer on Monday that “we are finally taking action in Congress” after a year of discrimination that has made many in the AAPI community afraid to use public transit or even leave their homes.

This bill which was sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, would establish a position at the Justice Department to expedite the agency’s review of hate crimes and expand the channels to report them. It would also encourage the creation of state-run hate crime hotlines, provide grant money to law enforcement agencies that train their officers to identify hate crimes and introduce a series of public education campaigns around bias against people of Asian descent.

The bill would also issue guidance to local law enforcement officials on making hate crime reporting more efficient through online reporting, which would be available in multiple languages. Additionally, the bill would expand “public education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and reaching victims.”

Another key aspect of the bill is its plan to issue guidance that would be aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the amended bill. Former President Donald Trump regularly called COVID-19 “the China virus” while crimes against Asian Americans surged since the dawn of the pandemic.

The bill is the most substantive congressional response to what has been an alarming rise in racist sentiment against Asian Americans, fueled in part by derogatory language about the virus’ origins in China. Donald Trump, while president, played into that narrative with derisive nicknames for the virus. The moment harks back to earlier eras of racism against Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, and others of Asian heritage in the U.S. 

The continuous statements made by the Former President of the China virus as it relates to Asian Americans simply ignited the flames throughout the year of chaos.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks Asian American discrimination, there were 103 incidents in Texas from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, which were among nearly 3,800 nationwide.

Even till this day with the onset of the recent gun violence and the covid-19 pandemic, the Asian hate crimes still prevails in different cities. Thankfully we now have some roving community ambassadors in the different neighborhoods. Yet we cannot wait until the US House of Representatives finally makes a full house vote of the bill in the coming weeks. Hopefully by June, the President signs this bill into law.

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