Anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in major US cities increased 169% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to a report from the California State’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism University, San Bernardino. Proponents say the actual number of hate crimes and incidents could be much higher due to chronic underreporting among minority communities.
Democrats and many Asian American supporters had criticized the controversial pandemic rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, such as the derogatory phrase “Chinese virus”, for inflaming xenophobic attitudes against American Americans. Asian origin.
The final legislation does not mention Trump, although the House is set to pass a separate non-binding resolution condemning the Atlanta-area shooting deaths of Asian American women – which are currently under investigation as a hate crime – and attributing some of the surge in anti-Asian sentiment. discriminatory “terminology and rhetoric”.
Lawmakers and advocates have hailed the passage of the legislation as a first step towards reducing the rise in hate crimes in the era of the pandemic. Along with a non-binding resolution passed by the House last year condemning anti-Asian sentiment, this is the first substantive congressional legislation to address the issue.
A House hearing earlier this year on anti-Asian American hatred, however, has turned into partisan acrimony. Democrats accused Republicans of putting a “bull’s eye” on Asian Americans, while GOP lawmakers said Democrats were trying to impede free speech. That kind of bitterness was mostly absent on Tuesday when the bill was passed.
Representative Judy Chu (D-California), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, hailed the bill as “a historic move to pass long-awaited hate crime legislation.”
Still, lawmakers have said the bill will only be the first step towards a longer-term solution. Chu noted that mental health issues are often “endemic” for hate crime perpetrators, “showing that we need to have a better overall response for mental illness in our country.”
And Representative Grace Meng (DN.Y.), the bill’s lead sponsor in the House, said passing the bill would show Congress supports “the Asian American community” and “makes it clear that a attack on the Asian American community is an attack on all of us. ” Meng had presented one version of the bill at the last Congress, but neither progressed.
Representative Michelle Steel (R-Calif.), One of two Asian-American Republicans in Congress, lamented the lack of involvement of House Republicans like her in the final legislation, but still said she ‘she was “proud to be here today to condemn these violent and support my community.” She had led a bipartisan resolution condemning anti-Asian American hatred, although she had not advanced in the House or been included in the bill.
Some progressive activist groups, such as 18 Million Rising, expressed concerns about the bill’s dependence on the police during a nationwide conversation about prejudice and law enforcement brutality in minority communities, although Meng said the main purpose of the bill is to improve data collection.
While understanding the activists’ concerns, Meng stressed that the bill did not allocate any new funding to law enforcement: “This legislation assumes law enforcement officials underreport such incidents, and all hate crimes are easy to ignore. . ”
Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.), The main sponsor in the House of the component of legislation to improve reporting of hate crimes at the local level, said it was “exactly what we needed, because we knew there was an undercount of hate crime … for years and years. “
The Senate easily passed the bill last month on a 94-1 vote, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) As the sole opponent. A bipartisan deal on the amendments paved the way for the bill’s final passage, avoiding a Republican filibuster.
Legislative language was tweaked after Republicans like Maine Senator Susan Collins expressed concerns that the original text was too narrowly focused. The senses. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) And Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Have also successfully amended it to provide grants to state and local governments to improve their hate crime reporting systems, while Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) Added a language mourning the victims of the shooting in his home country.