President Biden signs COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, ACLU endorses

On May 20, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which includes the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act. 

The bipartisan bill, which is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, is aimed at countering a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden Administration says the legislation serves as part of the nation’s first step toward unity, by enhancing hate crime data collection and providing community-centered solutions to assist hate crime victims and their communities. 

“I believe, with every fiber of my being, that there are simple, core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism — an ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation,” Biden stated to a group of advocates and lawmakers inside the East Room of the White House on Thursday. “Today I can say that because of all of you … you’ve taken that first step.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to serve as Vice President, added to the remarks by saying acts of hate are “nothing new” and part of her “lived experience.” She went on to tell the audience in the East Room ahead of the signing that the new law brings “us one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans.”

Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel for the ACLU, released the following statement: 

“At a moment when hate crimes — particularly against Asian Americans — are on the rise, Asian, Arab, and so many other impacted communities came together to pass legislation that will help us understand the scope of these attacks so that we may better protect communities. We applaud President Biden, Congress, and marginalized communities that have long fought for this victory, bringing us one step closer to addressing white supremacist violence in the United States.”

The legislation, called the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, will help to create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite review of potential Covid-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level, according to CNN. It will also regulate the Justice Department and Health and Human Services to work in conjunction with community-based organizations to issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic, and requiring the attorney general to issue guidance to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to organize online reporting of the crimes. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the signing marks an “important step toward protecting everyone in our country from acts of hate and intolerance.”

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