WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed Thursday afternoon a legislation to curb anti-Asian hate crimes that have skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris thanked lawmakers for offering overwhelming bipartisan support to the legislation.
“My message to all those of you who are hurting is, we see you,” said Biden. “And we are committed to stopping the hatred and the bias.”
“Racism exists in America,” Harris said. “Xenophobia exists in America. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, it all exists.”
“This bill brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not just against Asian Americans, but for all Americans,” said Harris.
The House passed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act on Tuesday in a 364-62 vote after the Senate voted 94-1 last month.
The legislation would create a position at the Justice Department to expedite a review of Covid-19-related hate crimes; provide grants for states to create hotlines for reporting hate crimes and for law enforcement training aimed at preventing and identifying hate crimes; and direct federal agencies to work with community organizations to help raise awareness about hate crimes during the pandemic.
Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 of the country’s largest cities and counties have increased 164 percent since last year, showed a recent study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino.
Separately, Stop AAPI Hate, a center tracking reports of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans, said it has received 6,603 firsthand complaints – nearly two thirds of them reported by women – since last year, revealing the troubling spike in anti-Asian hatred during the pandemic while underscoring the need for urgent actions, including those from Congress. (Xinhua)