United States President Joe Biden on May 20 signed a bill aimed to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My message to all of those who are hurting is, we see you. And the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias,” Biden said in remarks at the signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that comes during Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
Vice President Kamala Harris thanked lawmakers present at the signing, including Senators Mazie Hirono and Grace Meng who introduced the bill.
“Because of you, history will remember this day and this moment when our nation took action to combat hate,” Harris said, adding that the bill “brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans.”
The legislation would establish an online database to report hate crimes related to COVID-19 and would create grants to states and local law enforcements to help in reporting the hate incidents.
The legislation would designate an official from the Department of Justice to facilitate an expedited review of the reported hate crimes.
The legislation passed Congress with a vote of 364 to 62 last May 18 after it gained overwhelming support from the Senate with a vote of 94 to 1 last April 22. It was first introduced after the fatal shooting of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at three separate spas in the Atlanta area last March.
A report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University revealed that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020 and 164% in the first quarter of 2021.
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