CAPAC Statement on Senate Passage of Bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to Combat Anti-Asian Hate

Apr 22, 2021 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act introduced by Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and CAPAC First Vice Chair Grace Meng (NY-06). The bill will help to address the alarming surge in anti-Asian violence that has occurred throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by improving hate crime tracking and reporting and providing additional resources to state and local law enforcement. The bill also includes the text of the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Reps. Don Beyer (VA-08), Judy Chu (CA-27), Fred Upton (MI-06), and Vern Buchanan (FL-16). The House will take up the Senate-passed bill during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. CAPAC leaders released the following statements:

“Since the very start of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian American communities across the nation have been terrified by stigma, prejudice, and violence,” said CAPAC Chair Rep. Chu. “What started out as dirty looks quickly escalated into violent assaults that were made increasingly worse by leaders like Donald Trump who used racial slurs like ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’ to refer to COVID-19. This has contributed to a year that saw over 3,800 reported anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, including the horrific shootings at three Asian-owned spas in Georgia that claimed eight lives, six of whom were Asian women. This shooting shocked our nation and brought national attention to the ongoing fear and frustration that Asian Americans have faced throughout the pandemic. If we are to stop this violence, we must take action to strengthen our hate crimes laws and protect vulnerable communities. That is why today’s bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is so significant. This bill also includes my NO HATE Act, which will help to improve local law enforcement’s ability to respond. It is vital that hate crime victims know where to turn and have confidence that they will be heard, believed, and helped. Today’s vote brings us one step closer to that goal, and I look forward to passing this legislation in the House and getting it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

“Today’s historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act sends a powerful message of solidarity to the AAPI community—that the United States Senate rejects anti-Asian hate. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so the bill can go to President Biden to sign into law,” Senator Hirono said.

“After a year of unfathomable suffering and rising hate crimes against the Asian American community, passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in the Senate sends a strong and resolute message that our entire nation is committed to ending AAPI hate,” Senator Duckworth said. “I’m proud to have helped Senator Hirono introduce this important legislation to strengthen our enforcement of existing hate crime laws and support victims of this senseless, misguided violence. It is long past time to break the cycle of discrimination against Asian Americans and I will continue working to make this legislation law.”

“For more than a year, Asian Americans all across our nation have been screaming out for help, and in passing the legislation sponsored by Senator Hirono and I, the Senate showed that they heard our pleas,” said CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep. Meng. “I thank and applaud each and every senator who voted to pass our bill which was a bold step in taking action to combat the ongoing hate and violence against Asian Americans. I also want to especially thank my hometown Senator, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for shepherding the measure through the Senate and securing its overwhelming bipartisan support. We’ve all heard the sickening stories and seen the horrifying videos of Asian Americans being beaten, slashed and spat on. Today, the Senate said enough is enough, and underscored loud and clear that there is no place for hate anywhere in our society. More reporting of hate crimes will provide us with increased data and a more accurate picture of the attacks that have been occurring against those of Asian descent, and a more centralized and unified way of reviewing these crimes would help to address the problem in a more effective manner. I have heard from so many Asian Americans who tell me that they are scared to walk outside. Families won’t let their kids go to the park or play outdoors. People are urging their parents and grandparents to stay inside, telling them that they’ll run their errands and deliver groceries to them. Being forced to endure this terror and fear is unconscionable and unacceptable. Everybody in our country deserves to feel safe, and that includes the Asian American community. Again, I commend the Senate for moving our COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act closer to the finish line, and I now look forward to the House swiftly following suit.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.