A Queens lawmaker recently introduced a resolution in Congress following the increase in hate crimes and anti-Asian rhetoric surrounding COVID-19.
Congresswoman Grace Meng’s resolution recognized that public officials and law enforcement had the responsibility to “condemn and denounce any and all anti-Asian sentiment in any form.” According to Meng’s office, a recent study revealed that between February 9, 2020, and March, 7 2020, there were more than 400 reported cases of anti-Asian discrimination related to COVID-19 in the United States.
“The increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric, particularly from our nation’s leaders such as the President, and their use of terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ is not only irresponsible, reckless, and downright disgusting, it threatens the safety of the Asian American community; such language demeans, disparages, and scapegoats Asian Americans,” said Meng.
The resolution called for federal law enforcement, in cooperation with state and local officials to (1) “expeditiously investigate” and document credible reports of hate crimes, incidents and threats against Asian Americans, (2) collect data documenting the rise of hate crimes and (3) hold perpetrators accountable and bring them to justice.
“Asian Americans, like millions of others across the nation, are worried about the coronavirus; however, so many Asian Americans are also living in fear following the dramatic increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent,” Meng said. “During this time of heightened anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of protecting the health and safety of every single person – no matter their race, ethnicity, or background.”
There are approximately 23,000,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., accounting for 7 percent of the nation’s population. Over 200,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are working in essential industries including health care, law enforcement, transportation and food service and supermarkets.
Additionally, there has been an increase in vandalism of Asian American businesses, which generate over $700 billion in annual revenue and employ nearly 4.5 million workers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized that naming COVID-19 by its geographic location or linking it to specific ethnicities perpetuates stigmas and provided guidance to media, scientists and authorities to avoid this practice.
The House must take a strong stand against the sickening intolerance, bigotry, and violence that is leaving a terrible stain on our nation’s history, especially during this moment of an unprecedented public health crisis,” said Meng. “I am grateful to my colleagues who introduced this resolution with me today, and for joining me in saying loud and clear: xenophobia and discrimination is absolutely unacceptable.”
Meng’s resolution has 124 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. View the text of the measure here.