Published on: Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Senate overwhelmingly voted (92-6) on Wednesday to advance legislation that would strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, paving the way for passage of the measure and sending a bipartisan denunciation of the sharp increase in discrimination and violence against Asian communities in the United States. The vote came the same day that President Biden named a liaison from his administration to the Asian-American Pacific Islander community.

The bill, called the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act (S.937), passed a procedural hurdle, and a final vote is expected soon. The bill would also direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies for establishing online reporting, "culturally appropriate" public education campaigns and data collection. The legislation would also allow judges to mandate that individuals convicted under federal hate crime laws receive education about the targeted community.

The AAPI community has experienced a dramatic spike in the number of hate crimes in the past year. The organization Stop AAPI Hate documented at least 3,795 attacks from last March to February of this year, and leaders say the true number is much higher as many attacks go unreported.