Historic passage of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Celebrated by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Legislation Prioritizes Much-Needed Language Access and Improves Data Collection and Connection to Support Services for Impacted Individuals and Communities
For Immediate Release
Danielle Wong 202-657-7348 dwong@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144 mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org

WASHINGTON, DC ― In a historic move today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This bill, which includes the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, addresses the current rise in anti-Asian hate and holds law enforcement accountable for tracking and reporting hate crimes.  

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, expected to be signed quickly into law by President Biden, tackles the broader infrastructural improvements needed in hate crimes data collection, reporting, and connection to support services. It includes critical provisions to expand language access and allow for culturally competent and linguistically accessible public education campaigns to reach communities targeted by hate with information regarding reporting and support services. The bill also includes measures to expand restorative justice practices and alternative sentencing. 

Said Advancing Justice – AAJC’s president and executive director, John C. Yang, “The passage of this bill today begins a much-needed step forward in prioritizing language access and culturally competent outreach to our communities in reporting and addressing anti-Asian hate, while also giving the communities power to allocate resources for community solutions to hate and discrimination, including non-law enforcement support services for victims and communities. This step forward also improves hate crimes reporting and data collection infrastructure to keep government agencies and law enforcement accountable to our communities’ needs.” 

Yang continued, “We know there is much more to do, and we are committed to ensuring both national and local responses are community-focused and fully informed by the needs of communities of color so we can live without fear of racist attacks and discrimination.” 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC worked since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on legislative measures to address the rising anti-Asian rhetoric and hate impacting our communities. We have worked in conjunction with Representative Meng, Senator Hirono, and the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and have worked across three Congresses to move the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act forward with partner civil rights organizations and bill co-sponsors Senator Blumenthal and Representative Beyer. 

This legislation provides for more accurate data and improved response to the hate crimes that are impacting people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. It improves data collection and law enforcement policies on identifying, investigating, and reporting hate crimes, provides grants for state-run hotlines for reporting and connection to support services, and creates opportunities to restore communities and address the root causes of hate crimes through alternative sentencing for offenders. Investing in better quality data and reporting infrastructure are vital in addressing racial equity for the long-term. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC supports efforts to confront and uproot the systems of white supremacy that feed into the historic targeting, over-policing, and criminalizing of communities of color in the United States. Accurate data on hate crimes, including for limited-English proficient community members, is a necessary first step to keep government accountable to meeting the true needs of our communities. We seek comprehensive, community-centered solutions, and the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a critical step in the right direction.