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Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

More than 183 national organizations, led by Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community groups, have called on the White House to set aside $300 million for safety and relief programs.

Why it matters: The letter of demands was delivered to President Biden and Vice President Harris during their meeting with AAPI leaders in Atlanta on Friday, days after a white gunman in Atlanta killed eight people, including six Asian women.

Of note: Earlier Friday Biden in a statement called for the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. The measure would:

  • Expedite the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic.
  • Support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting.
  • Ensure that hate crimes information is more accessible to Asian American communities.

Details of the AAPI request: $100 million to go to AAPI groups to develop programs that address discrimination against Asian people, with an additional $200 million requested in the next federal budget for "longer-term community safety, recovery and resilience," including:

  • Funds to help hate-crime victims report incidents in their language, receive mental health support, and navigate government resources.
  • Money to help organizations advocate for victims and survivors.
  • Resources for creating alternatives to law enforcement, such as violence prevention and crisis intervention.
  • Funds to help AAPI essential workers and low-wage workers "confronting the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism," especially immigrants.
  • Establishing a White-House-level interagency task force to coordinate federal efforts with AAPI advocates.
  • Disaggregating resources to ensure they are appropriately directed to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities and organizations.

What they're saying: "It is open season on Asian American women and girls, transgender and gender non-conforming, undocumented and immigrant communities," the letter to Biden begins.

  • "Our Asian elders are not safe walking on the streets for fear of getting sliced, punched, shoved, kicked and spit on. Our children endure bullying and are all but invisible in what they learn about in school. Our businesses are shuttered, our homes graffitied. We can’t wait any longer."
  • The community groups also single out President Trump for his "China virus" rhetoric. He "extended the wounds of the AAPI community and invited hate-filled white supremacists to pour salt on them," the letter states.

After the meeting, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum released statements highlighting the "racialized misogyny" that targets Asian women.

  • "The prior presidential memo did nothing to prevent the murders that occurred this week, nor has it stemmed the flow of violence and hate to date," Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow said, referring to Biden’s January directive for federal agencies to examine anti-Asian discrimination.
  • "What is clear is that we need an interagency, full government response that addresses the full spectrum of our community's needs ... That requires actual, long-term investment."

The big picture: The pandemic has led to a rise in anti-Asian incidents across the U.S.

  • Asian women are particularly vulnerable. They are 2.3 times more likely to report an incident than Asian men, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

Go deeper: Atlanta spa killings stir even more fear among Asian Americans

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

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Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

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COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

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Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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