Healing effort

Monday, 2021-04-26 16:41:08
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A woman holds a placard as she participates in a Stop Asian Hate rally at Columbus Park in New York City, U.S., April 3, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – A hate crimes bill to combat violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic has recently been passed the US Senate, showing a high consensus among lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties in an effort to prevent acts of hatred and racism. This is also to be considered an outstanding achievement of President J. Biden in his first 100 days in office.

Named the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the bill received votes in favour from 96 senators, compared with a single vote against. With a balance in numbers between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, the result of the above vote is an example of a rare consensus between the two parties. The almost total support for the bill reflected a high consensus between the two sides to promote concrete action to protect the Asian American community in the context of discrimination, hostility, hatred and violence aimed at it in recent times.

The bill was proposed by two Asian senators, with the outstanding content requiring the US Department of Justice to speed up its review of cases involving hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, to set up a separate office to deal with crimes against Asian Americans, to expand resources to improve information reception and processing, as well as increasing support for victims of violence and discrimination.

The bill also provided guidance for law enforcement forces in resolving cases, enhancing education against discrimination and violence towards Asian Americans. According to parliamentarians, the adoption of the bill sent a message of solidarity, affirming the Asian community is paid attention to, listened to and protected.

The US Senate passed the bill in the context of recent incidents of violence against Asian people, most notably the mid-March shootings in Atlanta, where six of the victims were Asian women. This incident increased theanger felt over violence against people from Asia and Pacific islands, leading to a wave of protests across the US.

According to verified data, since the COVID-19 outbreak in the US in early 2020, nearly 3,800 cases have been reported involving acts of discrimination, hatred and violence against Asians and people from Pacific islands. The number of these incidents has increased 150% overthe past year, particularly in 16 major US cities. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 50% of Asian Americans surveyed confirmed they had been victims of stigma and discrimination since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Once proposed, the bill received the special attention of President J. Biden, and he repeatedly urged the US Congress to quickly pass the bill. Addressing racism in the US, including hatred against Asians, is one of the domestic policy focuses of the current US administration.

Just a week after taking office, President Biden signed a decree, condemning prejudice and discriminatory behaviour, especially violence against Asians. The White House then implemented a series of new measures, such as setting up a committee to deal with related cases, asking local governments to pay more attention to the Asian community, and announcing plans to spend nearly US$50 million to assist victims of violence and discrimination.

President J. Biden also appointed an Asian American to the position of assistant and coordinator for the Asian American community and the Pacific Islands. The US Senate’s passing of the bill is a marked success of President Biden’s efforts thus far and an important domestic achievement in the first 100 days of his tenure.

According to US experts, the positive contributions made by people from the Asian and Pacific islands communityto the world’s number one economy are undeniable, although the community only accounts for less than 7% of the total population. Tax rates, spending and investmentby families from this community are quite high, and Asian-owned businesses also created millions of jobs for the US labour market.

After the Senate, the hate crimes bill to combat violence against Asian Americans still need to pass at the House of Representatives, in a vote scheduled to take place in May. Efforts from both the government and the legislature are expected to promote social solidarity in the US, fight against discrimination and racist hatred, in the spirit of the recently held National Day of Action and Healing.