US senators sent the Covid-19 Hate crimes Bill to President Joe Biden for signature on Tuesday, after an alarming number of cases of violence against Asian-American were reported last year. The legislation was introduced by Representative Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono. The Senate had approved the bill last month.
The Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act was passed by a vote of 364-62. Republicans accounted for all 62 votes against the bill.
The new law instructs the US Justice Department to concentrate its efforts on prosecuting violent crimes committed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed the necessity of sending a unified message on the need to improve the nation's defences against anti-AAPI violence, reported NDTV. "These attacks are even more shameful in light of our AAPI community's heroism during the pandemic," Pelosi said, referring to the significant number of Asian Americans who work as emergency responders and health care providers.
Seniors have been assaulted, shops have been destroyed, and videos have surfaced of Asian Americans being stabbed, beaten, and violently confronted in public places in the US last year.
In March, a 21-year-old male was arrested and accused of the murder of eight persons, including six Asian women who worked at massage parlours in and around Atlanta.