United States President Joe Biden signed anti-hate crime legislation on Thursday directing federal law enforcement to address a rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are simple core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism,” Biden said at a White House ceremony attended by Democratic legislators and administration officials.
The new law seeks to speed the Justice Department’s review of anti-Asian hate crimes, and designates an official at the department to oversee the effort. Importantly for enforcement of anti-hate crime laws, it will make reporting easier for victims of all types of hate crimes and provide training for local and state officials.
The measure had passed both chambers of Congress by large majority votes. It was approved 94-1 in the Senate and 364-62 in the House of Representatives. The new law directs the US Department of Justice to focus on the prosecution of violent crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Biden praised Democrats and Republicans in Congress for working together to enact the law.
“We simply haven’t seen this kind of bipartisanship for much too long in Washington. You’re showing us that our democracy can work and deliver for the American people,” the president said.
In the past year, the US police have seen a surge in racially motivated crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders including a shooting in March in Georgia that killed six women of Asian descent.