President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation that “aims to combat the rise in hate crimes” against Asian Americans that has occurred since the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, is designed to improve hate crime tracking and reporting by assigning a Justice Department official “to review and expedite hate crimes reports and bolstering support for state and local officials investigating hate crimes,” The Hill reported.

“We have to change the hearts of the American people. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, hate can be given no safe harbor in America,” said Biden. “I mean it, no safe harbor. It can’t be dismissed, like ‘well that’s just what happens.'”

At the bill signing Thursday, from left to right: Senator Tammy Duckworth, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Vice President Harris, Rep. Judy Chu, President Biden, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Don Beyer and Senator Hirono. Courtesy: Sen. Mazie Hirono/2021

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) issued the following statement after Biden signed the law:

“After a year in which the AAPI community experienced a horrifying rise in hate crimes and incidents driven by racist and inflammatory language during the pandemic, I was proud to stand beside President Biden and Vice President Harris as the President signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law. This bipartisan piece of legislation sends a clear and unmistakable message of solidarity to our community at this crucial moment and will help federal, state, and local governments confront anti-Asian hate across our country,” Hirono said in a press release.

She continued: “Over the coming weeks and months, I will work closely with Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to implement this legislation as quickly and comprehensively as possible.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) sponsored the same bill in the House.

The bill’s passage, coming during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, represented “a rare bipartisan feat” in a divided Washington, said The Hill. Only one Republican senator opposed the bill and just 62 GOP representatives.

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