The House of Representatives approved on Tuesday a bill that seeks to curb anti-Asian hate crimes, which now expects presidential approval.
With 364 votes in favor and 62 against, the initiative was endorsed in the House of Representatives almost a month after the almost unanimous support it achieved in the Senate (94-1), with the sole opposition of Republican Josh Hawley.
The initiative, promoted by New York Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng, became relevant after the attacks suffered by people of Asian origin and the shooting that on March 16 claimed the lives of eight people in several Asian massage parlors in Atlanta.
At a press conference, Meng noted that people of Asian descent have become the “scapegoat” for the pandemic, and lamented that they have been beaten, stabbed and even killed.
The group Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks hate incidents against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States, has documented 6,603 occurrences such as verbal harassment, physical assault or discrimination from March 2020 to March 2021.
A study by California State University, San Bernardino indicates that there was a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020 over the previous year.
The bill passed today requires the Department of Justice to designate a point person to investigate such crimes during the pandemic and calls for mobilizing resources at the local and state levels.
Biden is expected to sign the bill into law as early as Thursday, coinciding with the nation’s celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.