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Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act after the House of Representatives voted to approve it this week.

Why it matters: The legislation is one of the federal government's first effort to address the rise of anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic, with one in four Asian Americans saying that they have experienced a hate incident.

What they're saying: "I believe with every fiber of my being, that there are simple core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism — the ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation," Biden said in a speech ahead of the signing.

  • Too many Asian Americans woke up this past year "genuinely fearing for their safety," Biden added.
  • "For centuries, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders — diverse and vibrant communities — have helped build this nation, only to be often stepped over, forgotten or ignored," Biden said. "Lived here for generations and are still considered by some the 'other.'"
  • "History will remember this day and this moment when our nation took action to combat hate," Vice President Kamala Harris said.
  • "This bill brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans," Harris added.

Details: The bill directs the Justice Department to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes, and to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement officials on how to create online strategies to report such crimes.

  • Both the DOJ and the Health Department must offer guidance on how to raise awareness on the rise on coronavirus-related hate crimes over the past year.

Between the lines: Over 75 Asian and LGBTQ organizations urged Congress to oppose the legislation last week, arguing it would only bolster policing and disproportionately hurt marginalized communities. Lawmakers maintained that it would boost hate crime tracking and not policing.

Go deeper: Why attacks against the AAPI community are difficult to prosecute as hate crimes

Go deeper

Updated May 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House sends anti-Asian hate crimes bill to Biden's desk

Asian Coalition of Massachusetts organizer Fiona Phie takes a moment of silence after placing an offering to honor those who have experienced violent anti-Asian hate crimes. Photo: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The House voted 364-62 on Tuesday to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and send it to President Biden's desk, who has said he will sign the measure into law.

Why it matters: Introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), the bill is Congress' first substantial effort to address the rise of anti-Asian hate this past year, which has included stabbings, sexual assault and elder abuse.

Harris on anti-Asian hate: Let's "turn that pain into action"

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday condemned the yearlong spike in anti-Asian hate and urged the Asian American community to harness its political power.

What she's saying: "When we saw the targeting, when we've seen the hate, when we've seen the viciousness of it all ... As a member of this community, I share in that outrage and grief, and I believe we have an opportunity now to turn that pain into action," the country's first Asian and Black vice president said at the AAPI Victory Alliance's unity summit.

Scoop: Democrats launching early AAPI ad buy

Rep. Carolyn Maloney speaks at the rally. To her right is U. S. Representative Grace Meng. To her left Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. Photo: Pacific Press/Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee is launching its first minority-focused ad buy of the 2022 midterm cycle, targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in battleground states, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The buy, which comes earlier than any similar purchase during prior election cycles, underscores Democrats’ awareness of their slim majorities in Congress and the need to engender and retain support from communities of color.