(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — An anti-Asian hate bill passed the Senate on a near-unanimous vote, 94-1, on Thursday. The bill aims to help local law enforcement and communities combat the rise in attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Senator Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat who is Japanese American, sponsored the legislation that requires the Justice Department to assign a point person to focus on reviewing hate crimes and work with state and local law enforcement in response efforts.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before Thursday’s vote on the Senate floor, “This long overdue bill sends two messages: to our Asian American friends, we will not tolerate bigotry against you, and to those perpetrating anti-Asian bigotry, we will pursue you to the fullest extent of the law.”
“We cannot — we cannot allow the recent tide of bigotry, intolerance and prejudice against Asian Americans go unchecked,” he urged.
The only Senator voting against the bill was Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican. He said the bill was “too broad” and explained, “It’s dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.”
The bill arrives as Asian Americans have experienced a surge in hate crimes over the past year. A March 2020 analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, documented a 149 percent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans across 16 cities.
That number is expected to be much higher as Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased again, reports Stop AAPI Hate. The coalition received nearly 3,800 hate incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28 of this year.
Among those reports, 68 percent of the victims were women — meaning women were targeted 2.3 times more than men.
In addition, a study by the Asian American Federation found that Asian Americans had some of the highest rates of depression and suicide, and were less likely to seek help compared with other racial groups.
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