Padilla, Feinstein Join Effort to Condemn Anti-Asian Hatred, Discrimination Related to COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), along with 33 of their Senate colleagues, in introducing a resolution to condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, racism, and discrimination, and call on federal officials, in collaboration with state and local agencies and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community organizations to address the rise in COVID-19-related hate crimes. The resolution was introduced in the wake of the Atlanta shooting—where eight people were killed, including six women of Asian descent, and following a new report that AAPIs were targeted in nearly 3,800 hate incidents across the country since last March. Both Padilla and Feinstein are cosponsors of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation that addresses the rise of hate crimes and violence against AAPI communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, Trump and political leaders have stoked violence against AAPI communities by repeatedly using racist rhetoric in regard to the virus,” said Senator Padilla. “The ongoing attacks against Asian Americans have been deeply disturbing – we must always condemn hate in all forms. I’m proud to join Senators Hirono and Duckworth on this critical resolution, and stand in solidarity with our AAPI communities to make clear that hate and racism will not be tolerated in this country.”

“The conspiracy theory that Asian Americans are responsible for the COVID pandemic is reprehensible and has turned dangerous. We have a responsibility to refute such vile racism in all of its forms, particularly when it leads to violence. All of us must stand up together and proclaim that hatred and racism directed at Asian Americans has to stop. I call on all our colleagues to join us in condemning these abhorrent actions,” Senator Feinstein said. 

“Our country’s AAPI community has experienced escalating verbal attacks and physical violence since the coronavirus pandemic began, including the devastating killings last week in Atlanta. We must reject all forms of xenophobia and address the harm to our AAPI communities. Passing this resolution would send a clear message, that hate, bigotry, and anti-Asian sentiment have no place in our country,” Senator Hirono said.

“After a year of hateful, offensive rhetoric being used in an attempt to racialize the COVID-19 pandemic against Asian Americans, we’ve seen a spike in hate crimes, violent assaults and discrimination targeting the AAPI community,” said Senator Duckworth. “As the AAPI community continues to be attacked, I’m proud to introduce this important resolution with Senator Hirono to condemn all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, including those made worse by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

A similar resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) last month and now has 145 cosponsors.

“The answer to racism is never more racism; it is solidarity with others. It is up to each of us to call out those who would commit anti-Asian hate crimes, be it verbal or physical acts of xenophobia and bigotry. I thank Senators Hirono and Duckworth for introducing the Senate version of my House resolution condemning those hateful incidents,” said Representative Meng. “Their resolution comes at a particularly tragic moment as we continue to mourn the eight people—including the six Asian women—who were murdered last week in the Atlanta-area. Last year, my resolution passed the House, but 164 Republicans voted against it. Let’s correct these errors. Passing both resolutions should not be a partisan issue. Stopping the attacks against Asian Americans is not a partisan issue. Standing against hate, fear, and injustice is not a partisan issue. I urge both the House and Senate to bring these measures up for a vote.”

The resolution:

·       Condemns all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, including racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and scapegoating, related to COVID–19;

·       Recognizes that the health and safety of all people of the United States, regardless of background, must be the utmost priority;

·       Calls on federal law enforcement officials, working with state and local agencies to

o   expeditiously investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes, harassment, bullying, and threats against AAPI communities;

o   expand data collection and reporting to document the rise in incidences of hate crimes relating to COVID–19; and

o   hold the perpetrators of those crimes, incidents, or threats accountable and bring such perpetrators to justice;

·       Calls on the Attorney General to work with state and local agencies and AAPI community-based organizations to prevent discrimination, and expand culturally appropriate education campaigns on public reporting of hate crimes;

·       Calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and AAPI community-based organizations, to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic; and

·       Recommits the United States to serve as a model in building a more inclusive, diverse, and tolerant society.

The full resolution text is available here.