The United States Senate passed with a wide bipartisan support on April 22 a bill addressing the recent rise of anti-Asian hate crimes.
The Senate voted 94-1 to approve the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that would designate an official from the Department of Justice to facilitate an expedited review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 that were reported to law enforcement agencies.
The bill would also establish an online database to report anti-Asian hate crimes and would perform public outreach to victims.
Hawaiian Senator Mazie Hirono, who introduced the bill, said that the “historic” vote was a “powerful message of solidarity” to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
“Racism has always existed in America unfortunately, and the legacy of anti-Asian sentiment goes back centuries to dark chapters in our history, like the Chinese-exclusion act and the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Senate.
“By passing this bill, the senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group has no place in America. Bigotry against one is bigotry against all,” Schumer said.
“To our Asian American friends, we will not tolerate bigotry against you. And to those perpetrating anti-Asian bigotry, we will pursue you to the fullest extent of the law,” Schumer further said.
The vote came after a rise of hate crimes against the AAPI community since last year when the COVID-19 pandemic began, including the shootings in the Atlanta area last March 16 when six of the eight victims killed were Asian women.
The bill will now head to the House for approval before being signed into law by President Joe Biden.