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Anti-Asian hate crimes bill becomes law in US

  US President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday a bill that targets Asian hate crimes, which have spiked dramatically across the coun...

 


US President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday a bill that targets Asian hate crimes, which have spiked dramatically across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act expands access to resources for anyone reporting anti-Asian hate crimes, and gives victims access to multiple languages for help.

 

It also orders the US Justice Department to designate a point person who will handle a review of hate crimes related to COVID-19. And the act doles out grant money for state and local governments to try to prevent Asian hate crimes, and respond to them more urgently.

 

The bill passed overwhelmingly in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but all 63 members of Congress who voted "no" were Republicans.

 

Former Republican President Donald Trump was blamed for stoking anti-Asian sentiment by referring to the coronavirus as the "Kung Flu", a racist phrase often repeated by of his followers.

 

At Thursday's bill signing ceremony, Biden was joined by several lawmakers, including the Asian congressional members who drafted the bill. Also, there were Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Vice President of Asian descent, Senator Tammy Duckworth, a war veteran and native of Thailand, and the Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, who's wife is a native of Taiwan.

 

The Asian advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate praised the bill, but said more legislation was needed to address the "root causes of systemic racism and oppression."

 

New York City has become a barometer for the increase in Asian hate crimes: in the first weekend of May alone, the New York Police Department reported four attacks on Asians. And in the first four months of 2021, there were 17 arrests for attacks on Asians in the city; by comparison, there were 23 arrests in all of 2020.

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