The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill, which passed 364 to 62, directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19 related hate crimes that were reported to law enforcement agencies and help them establish ways to report similar incidents online.
It also directs the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to reduce racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
“Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19, and as a result, Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed,” said Rep. Grace Meng, New York (D), at a news conference. “The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure will “strengthen our defenses to prevent reports and combat” violence against Asian Americans as well as build on actions taken by Biden.
Around 100 Asian American and LGBTQ+ groups, however, raised concerns about the legislation before the vote. The groups argued that the legislation fails to provide resources to address the causes of anti-Asian bias and ignores police violence against Black and brown communities.
“Hate crime classifications and statistics do not change the structural conditions that lead to violence against marginalized communities,” the groups said in a joint statement, according to NBC News.