Lalit K Jha
US President Joe Biden has signed a legislation to address the sudden increase in hate crime against Asian-Americans in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed hope that such crimes would now be more accurately counted and reported so that it can be ended.
"It will provide resources to create specialised hate crimes units that will also help states create hotlines for hate crimes at state and local levels that will be accessible for people with limited English proficiency. And it provides resources for training for state and local law enforcement to identify, investigate, and report these heinous crimes," Biden said after signing the legislation which has become a law after his assent.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved version of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with an overwhelming bipartisan vote.
This bill was introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng in the House, and incorporated the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.
This legislation will address the current rise in anti-Asian hate and improve the reporting of hate crimes.
Biden also urged people to change their mind and heart.
"But of all the good that the law can do, we have to change our hearts. We have to change the hearts of the American people. I mean this from bottom my heart -- hate can be given no safe harbor in America. I mean it: no safe harbor. It can't be dismissed like, Well, that's just what happens. My sister, Valerie, and I talk about it all the time. You've got to speak up. Speak up and speak out," he said.
Senator Hirono said after a year in which the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community experienced a horrifying rise in hate crimes and incidents driven by racist and inflammatory language during the pandemic, the bipartisan piece of legislation sends a clear and unmistakable message of solidarity to the community at this crucial moment and will help federal, state, and local governments confront anti-Asian hate across our country.
"This bill will require the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, ensure online hate crimes and hate incident reporting are language accessible, expand public awareness campaigns designed to increase awareness and outreach to victims, disaggregate victims' protected characteristics, and expand restorative justice practices and alternative sentencing," said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote.
"These initiatives will help combat the historic undercounting of hate crimes by the Asian American community and improve the overall infrastructure needed for hate crime reporting, data collection, and justice," she said.