As hate crimes against Asian Americans continued to spike, federal legislation addressing it is moving through Congress this week.
“It is not an exaggeration to say, ‘I am terrified,’ and I’ve been very, very cautious about when I go out,” Jo-Ann Yoo of the Asian American Federation said.
Yoo said she has been screamed at and intimidated on the streets of New York.
According to the NYPD, she’s not alone.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 54 anti-Asian or COVID-19-motivated crimes, the NYPD said. And Yoo said many more are unreported, some due to a language barrier.
“Half of my community in New York City has limited English proficiency,” Yoo said.
In late March, the NYPD added undercover patrols. And just a few days ago, Juvian Rodriguez was arrested after police said he made threats and anti-Asian remarks to an undercover cop in the Hate Crimes Task Force.
But not everyone who is targeted will see justice.
“People need to feel empowered to come forward and report these incidents. We need to make this process easier and more accessible,” Rep. Grace Meng said.
The Queens congresswoman was the sponsor of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in the House of Representatives. This bill would designate a Justice Department employee to review COVID-19 hate crimes. It would also establish online reporting and it would be in multiple languages. There would be a public campaign to educate people about appropriate language and guidance to reduce discriminatory language when describing the COVID-19 pandemic, too.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would support a bi-partisan amendment.
“Their bill would provide resources to state and local law enforcement to improve hate crime reporting, increase training and establish pathways to rehabilitation,” Schumer said.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel said he would consider the legislation with the bi-partisan amendment.
It could go to a vote as early as this week.