White House announces measures to address anti-Asian violence
The White House on Tuesday announced additional funding and the establishment of new initiatives in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the rise in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans.
The Biden administration rolled out a series of efforts, including a cross-agency initiative at the DOJ to respond to anti-Asian violence.
As part of the initiative, the Civil Rights Division reconvened its Hate Crimes Enforcement and Prevention Initiative with a focus on the sharp increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. The FBI will publish a new interactive page that documents hate crimes against the community, and the bureau will begin holding training events to educate agents on recognizing and reporting anti-Asian bias.
The White House will reestablish and expand its Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), with initial focus on anti-Asian bias and violence and meet in the coming weeks with leaders in the AAPI community, according to a fact sheet distributed by the administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services is providing nearly $50 million allocated by the recently signed economic relief bill to aid AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
HHS will also establish a COVID-19 equity task force that will have a specific focus on ending bias against Asian Americans, which has swelled in particular because of the coronavirus pandemic. The task force will also develop policies to improve health outcomes in the AAPI community.
The moves from the White House come amid a broader reckoning with the rise in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans, which has been increasing in the year since the pandemic took hold in the U.S.
Several Asian women were killed in shootings near Atlanta earlier this month, and footage of Asian Americans being attacked have gone viral on multiple occasions, including one incident in New York City that showed a man attacking a 65-year-old Asian woman outside an apartment building.
Biden traveled to Atlanta in the wake of the shootings to condemn anti-Asian bias, and he has denounced such discrimination as “un-American.” But he has faced pressure to do more, with outside groups and AAPI lawmakers noting the lack of high-level representation in Biden’s Cabinet.
The administration has vowed to add a liaison between the White House and AAPI community after Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) threatened to block nominations.
“There is no doubt that our community is still at risk,” Duckworth said in a statement responding to Tuesday’s White House announcement. “I applaud President Biden for recognizing our community’s pain and taking concrete actions to protect AAPI individuals from violence and root out anti-Asian bias while also supporting the victims of hate crimes.”