Underwood-Backed, Bipartisan Anti-Hate Crime Bill to Protect AAPI Communities Passes the House; Heads to President Biden’s Desk to be Signed in Law

May 19, 2021
Press Release
Following the spread of COVID-19, there has been a dramatic increase in discrimination, hate crimes, and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) supported the bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937) to address the rise in hate crimes and violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and more broadly. The legislation will help combat the growing and grave crisis of anti-AAPI discrimination, violence, and bigotry made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation passed the Senate on April 22, 2021, and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 

“Around Illinois and across the country, we have seen an alarming rise in hate crimes directed toward Asian Americans, especially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the hateful misinformation that has spread in its wake. It’s unacceptable,” said Rep. Underwood. “As we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’m proud to support this legislation led by Senator Hirono and Representative Meng to bolster our nation’s defenses against hate crimes and help put an end to this crisis.”

Following the spread of COVID-19, there has been a dramatic increase in discrimination, hate crimes, and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  According to a new report issued on May 6, over the last year, more than 6,600 reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have been reported across all 50 states, with many more going unreported.  

President Biden has taken swift action, including his Day One Executive Order to marshal federal resources to combat racism, xenophobia, and bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and his March 30 announcement of additional steps to combat anti-AAPI hate. 

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act bill will speed up and strengthen our response to hate crimes, including:

  • Requiring the designation of an official at the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an expedited review of all COVID-related hate crimes;
  • Improving the reporting of hate crimes;
  • Authorizing grants to states to establish and run hate crime hotlines; and
  • Supporting law enforcement agencies with training officers on how to identify hate crimes and help state and local governments develop a system for collecting hate crime data.