WASHINGTON  – Today, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) voted for the bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation led by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) to address the rise of hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Specifically, the COVID-19 Hate Crime Acts directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assign a point person at the department to expedite the review of COVID-19 related hate crime, provide support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes, and coordinate with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.

The passage of this legislation follows a recent report highlighting that AAPIs were targeted in nearly 3,800 hate incidents across the country since last March. 

“The Asian-American community has been the target of an increased number of racist and hateful acts of violence. As a nation, we must not only stand firm in condemning these heinous acts, but also work together to address this unacceptable rise in violence. I’m proud the Senate could come together in a bipartisan way to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” said Senator Carper. “This common-sense legislation dedicates an office at DOJ to ensure hate crimes related to COVID-19 are reviewed in a timely manner and directs DOJ to help provide state and local communities better guidance to protect the AAPI community. I want to thank Senator Hirono for her leadership on this important issue. With this bill, we make it clear that there is simply no room in our country for bigotry and hate toward the AAPI community.”  

“The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country is unacceptable and requires urgent action,” said Senator Coons. “I’m encouraged that the Senate came together in a bipartisan manner to stand firmly against this bigotry and to provide actionable steps to expedite the review of reported hate crimes and work to combat discrimination related to the pandemic. By passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, we are sending an important message that hate has no home here.”

Both Senators Carper and Coons cosponsored a resolution in March of this year, also led by Senator Hirono, that would condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, racism, and discrimination, and call on federal officials, in collaboration with state and local agencies and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community organizations, to address the rise in COVID-19-related hate crimes.

Specifically, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act directs DOJ to:

  • Designate a DOJ employee to assist with expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
  • Provide guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to:
  • establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
  • expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and
  • Issue guidance detailing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.

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