Congress OKs bill to fight hate crimes against Asian Americans 

AP
Washington  Published: May 19, 2021, 03:51 PM(IST)

US flag (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )

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The bill, which the House passed on a 364-62 vote, will expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and make grants available to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of incidents driven by bias, which often go underreported

Congress approved legislation on Tuesday intended to curtail a striking rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, sending President Joe Biden a bipartisan denunciation of the spate of brutal attacks that have proliferated during coronavirus pandemic. 

The bill, which the House passed on a 364-62 vote, will expedite the review of hate crimes at the Justice Department and make grants available to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of incidents driven by bias, which often go underreported. It previously passed the Senate 94-1 in April after lawmakers reached a compromise. Biden has said he will sign it. 

"Asian Americans have been screaming out for help, and the House and Senate and President Biden have clearly heard our pleas," said Rep Grace Meng, D-NY, who helped lead efforts to pass the bill in the House. 

To many Asian Americans, the pandemic has invigorated deep-seated biases that in some cases date back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of more than a century ago. President Donald Trump repeatedly referred to the virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China, as the 'China Virus' or the 'Kung Flu’. And as cases of the illness began to rise in the US, so too did the attacks, with thousands of violent incidents reported in the past year. 

Rep Judy Chu, D-Calif, said it's painful for many to "open up the newspaper every day and see that yet another Asian American has been assaulted, attacked and even killed." 

In February, an 84-year-old man died after he was pushed to the ground near his home in San Francisco. A young family was injured in a Texas grocery store attack last year. And in Georgia, six Asian women were killed in March during a series of shootings targeting workers at massage parlours. Prosecutors are seeking hate crimes charges. The women, who were killed, are mentioned in the text of the bill. 

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