President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law on Thursday.
“To the members of our United States Congress on both sides of the aisle who helped pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, thank you,” Vice President Kamala Harris said. “Because of you, history will remember this day and this moment when our nation took action to combat hate.”
“In my life, my lived experience, I have seen how hate can pervade our communities,” Harris said. “I have seen how hate can impede our progress, and I have seen how people uniting against hate can strengthen our country.”
The bill’s passage is timely — it is Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, Heritage Month. President Biden hopes the bipartisan passage of the bill sends a message to the Asian American community.
“For centuries, Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, diverse and vibrant communities have helped build this nation only to be often stepped over, forgotten, or ignored,” the President said. “My message to all of those who are hurting is, we see you. And the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias.”
The President said that the hate crimes against the AAPI community in the United States are “un-American.”
“Silence is complicity. And we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act. That’s what you’ve done. And I can’t think you enough,” President Biden said. “I’m proud today.”
The legislation was created in response to the rise in violence against Asian people during the pandemic. The bill directs the Justice Department to appoint a person to assist with expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes.
More than 6,600 incidents against Asian-Americans have been reported since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a report from Stop AAPI Hate.
“This bill brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans but for all Americans,” Harris said.