Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar’s bill to establish the first-ever New York State Asian American and Pacific Islander Commission was officially signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul in November.
Rajkumar’s bill (A3301) bridges the divide between Asian Americans and the state by instituting a 15-member commission that will develop policies to improve the community, economy, social well-being, health and educational needs of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the state.
In recent years and during the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-Americans increased, according to the New York City Commission on Human Rights. A study conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism also found that New York experienced an increase of 223% in anti-Asian hate crimes from the first quarter of 2020 to the same time in 2021.
Rajkumar’s bill adds New York to the 12 other states that have already established commissions serving Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. The new commission will also be tasked with developing public education campaigns on Asian American issues and culture.
In pushing her legislation forward, with the support of 41 co-sponsors and 50 Asian American community organizations, Rajkumar’s bill will help the state in taking measures against racist acts towards Asian Americans.
“I am proud to have established a historic commission that will bring Asian-American New Yorkers across our state to the table of government,” Rajkumar said, adding that her legislation comes at a critical time for Asian Americans.
Rajkumar also voiced concerns over rising hate crimes and how the commission will give future generations the support they need.
“At the same time, the community faces unique challenges such as a dramatic spike in hate crimes, language access issues and access to state government services,” Rajkumar said.” This commission will empower Asian American New Yorkers for generations to come.”
As the first South Asian-American woman ever elected to New York state, Rajkumar also paved the way for the inclusion of Asian Americans through the passage of her legislation establishing Diwali as a New York City public school holiday.