May 18 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to expedite prosecution of hate crimes against Asian Americans, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign.
The measure would direct the Department of Justice to speed up the process of reviewing hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, establish methods to report such incidents online and perform public outreach on the issue.
"Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result, Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed," said Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who originally introduced the bill alongside Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. "The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks."
Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit tracking incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, said earlier this month that it has tracked 6,603 reports of hate incidents since March 2020.
"These incidents have terrified the Asian-American community," Rep, Judy Chi, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said during a press conference.
"He looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week," she wrote.