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A New Law Helps Protect Asian Americans

Teresa talks with Democratic Representative Grace Meng about legislation she introduced to address a rise in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic. 

On May 20, President Joseph R. Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in Washington, D.C. The law addresses the alarming rise in anti-Asian violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

“My message to all of those who are hurting is: We see you,” Biden said. “And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias.”

Introduced by Representative Grace Meng (D-New York) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the bill sailed through both houses of Congress in a rare demonstration of unity between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The legislation is designed to make the reporting of hate crimes on the local and state level more accessible and makes sure that reporting resources are available in several languages.

“The law will also assign someone from the federal government’s Department of Justice to analyze these types of hate crimes that are going on around the country,” Representative Meng told me in a video interview. 

Meng is grateful that more Asian Americans are speaking out against the racism and violence that they have endured. “They finally have started to feel that other people are listening to them,” Meng said. “I think that we will see our Asian community be recognized more—the good, achievements, and contributions to our country, as well as the bad parts, including how we have been treated.” 



Representative David Price, a Democrat who represents my district in North Carolina, also supported the legislation. “I believe Congress has a duty to protect people from hate crimes and racially-motivated violence, which is why I was pleased to vote in support of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,” he told me via email. 

Meng encourages everyone in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, including young people, to speak out when they are the victims of hatred. She also wants kids to appreciate their cultural heritage. “Be proud of who you are,” she said. “Even if you feel like you look a little different from others or your culture is different, look at your culture, and be proud.” 


Photo courtesy of the author