Washington, D.C. – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) attended a signing ceremony at the White House of the historic COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, bipartisan legislation she co-authored with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to address hate crimes directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are experiencing heightened racial discrimination and violence amid the pandemic. Last month, the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 94-1, and yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation 364-62, clearing the legislation for President Joe Biden’s signature.
“Crimes motivated by bias against race, national origin, and other characteristics simply cannot be tolerated. I am proud to have worked closely with Senator Hirono to strengthen and improve this legislation, which both denounces hate crimes directed at the AAPI community and marshals additional resources toward addressing and stopping these despicable crimes,” said Senator Collins. “This law reaffirms our commitment to stand with our AAPI community against all forms of violence and harassment.”
Hate crimes targeting the AAPI community have increased dramatically over the past year. The group Stop AAPI Hate reported nearly 3,800 cases of anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic. Moreover, the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism found that reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 145 percent in 16 major cities, even though hate crimes declined in those cities overall.
This new law championed by Senator Collins supports the AAPI community by:
1) Strongly condemning hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
2) Helping the Department of Justice (DOJ) focus its resources on hate crimes that are occurring during the pandemic. A point person will be assigned at DOJ to expedite the review of these hate crimes, and the Attorney General will be required to issue guidance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners about how to address them. It will also improve data collection and expand public awareness about hate crimes and supporting victims.
3) Incorporating the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act. This bill, authored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), provides state and local governments and law enforcement agencies with additional tools and resources to understand, identify, and report hate crimes. It provides grants to state and local governments for training and using the FBI’s national hate crimes database; creates reporting hotlines; and supports community engagement around prevention and services for victims. This is important because too many hate crimes go unreported, and without data, it is difficult to investigate and prosecute them.