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Pascrell Cosponsors Legislation to Combat COVID-19 Hate Crimes

Rise in discrimination and violence continues amid coronavirus pandemic

To combat the surge in discriminatory attacks on the Jewish community during the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) is cosponsoring legislation that calls for greater federal government oversight of COVID-19 hate crimes, and requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide Congress with regular updates on the status of reported bias incidents. The legislation was introduced today by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY-06).

“This pandemic is waging war on our nation. Now more than ever, we must collectively reject bigotry and unite as one people under a common cause,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Those who would attempt to place blame on our Jewish neighbors for the spread of this virus are misguided and ignorant of the facts. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a needed step to confront the abhorrent spike in racist and discriminatory sentiments coinciding with this pandemic. Congresswoman Grace Meng deserves praise for authoring this bill and leading on this issue, and I am proud to stand beside her as a cosponsor.”

Since the beginning of the crisis, there have been numerous reports of anti-Semitic incidents against the Jewish community. The pandemic has also fueled a rise in Asian-Americans being threatened, harassed, or assaulted, and caused concern among members of the LGBTQ community. In addition to working to combat the coronavirus, these communities are forced to confront hate and injustice too.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (H.R.6721) would require the Attorney General to designate a DOJ officer or employee to:

  1. Facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement; and

      2. Report to Congress monthly on the status of these cases, including any resources provided to complainants, and actions taken to further investigate those incidents, with data disaggregated by victim’s race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and location of occurrence. These reports would be required for at least until one year after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted.

The bill introduced by Reps. Meng and Pascrell is endorsed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), Oxfam America, and Muslim Advocates.

 

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is cosponsored by Reps. Ted W. Lieu; Alan Lowenthal; Bonnie Watson Coleman; Joseph P. Kennedy, III; Barbara Lee; Jahana Hayes; Eliot L. Engel; Nydia M. Velázquez; Adriano Espaillat; Earl Blumenauer; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Stephen F. Lynch; Grace F. Napolitano; Anna G. Eshoo; Derek Kilmer; Thomas Suozzi; Sheila Jackson Lee; Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.; Al Green; Emanuel Cleaver, II; Donald M. Payne, Jr.; Pramila Jayapal; Mark Takano; Judy Chu; David Trone; and Jim Costa.

 

A copy of the legislation can be viewed here.


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