US Congress approved the bill aimed at addressing hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders following the rising of such incidents during the pandemic.
The House passed the bill in a 364-62 vote on Tuesday, May 18, and will expedite the justice department’s review of hate crimes and make grants available to assist local law enforcement agencies in improving their investigation, identification, and reporting of bias-related incidents, which frequently go unreported.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.
“Asian Americans have been screaming out for help, and the House and Senate and President Biden have clearly heard our pleas,” said Grace Meng, a Democratic congresswoman who helped lead efforts to pass the bill in the House.
The spread of the novel coronavirus first detected in China in late 2019 has coincided with an increase in violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States.
Over 6,600 incidences of anti-Asian and Pacific Islander racism and violence were reported during the year through March in all 50 states in the US, and the footage of attacks on Asian people that have circulated on social media strongly demonstrated the reports.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono, who was born in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and immigrated to Hawaii.