PRESS RELEASE: MENG AND HIRONO TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO COMBAT SURGE OF ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES

This press release has been issued by the Offices of Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono.

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2021

Contacts: 

  • MENG: Mark Olson, 202-819-5580
  • HIRONO: Martha Spieker, 202-365-7943

Legislation comes as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience wave of physical, verbal, and online attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Executive Board Member of CAPAC, announced their plan to reintroduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) by providing greater assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of such cases.

Specifically, the bill would:

  1. Designate an officer or employee of the Justice Department to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
  2.  Issue guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to:
    1. establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
    2.   expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and
  3.  Issue guidance describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.

“The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, is absolutely horrific. I am honored to introduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Senator Hirono to address this disgusting pattern of hate,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone—including elected officials—to not blame Asian Americans for the virus. My words were not heeded. The former president and his Congressional Republican enablers trafficked racist, bigoted terms to describe COVID-19. In doing so, their language stoked people’s fears and created an atmosphere of intolerance and violence, which persists even today. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans. Even in my own district in Queens, New York, Asian Americans have been attacked. To combat those acts, we need DOJ to prioritize addressing these heinous acts by designating a point person for these COVID-19 related hate crimes; make it easier for victims to report crimes committed against them; and expand public education campaigns to address COVID-19 hate crimes and incidents. This must end and it is why we are working to ensure our justice system has the people and resources to effectively account for and mitigate anti-Asian hate crimes. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

“We’ve seen the horrifying consequences of racist language as AAPI communities across our country experience hate crimes and violence related to the pandemic,” said Senator Hirono. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act addresses the surge in violence against AAPI communities by dedicating an official at the Department of Justice to expeditiously review hate crimes reported to law enforcement. The bill also provides resources for communities to come together and fight intolerance and hate. This is no less than victims deserve.”

“We are grateful for Senator Hirono and Representative Meng’s leadership in responding to the increased attacks on Asian Americans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “We need improvements in the reporting and handling of COVID-19-related hate crimes by law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as making systems more accessible for people with limited proficiency in English. We appreciate the emphasis on linguistically appropriate and culturally competent engagement on data collection and reporting. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is committed to countering hate in all its forms, and we will to continue to push for a comprehensive approach to documenting and addressing hate crimes and prioritizing health and safety for all.”

“NAPABA applauds Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng for their decisive action to introduce legislation responding to the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said. A.B. Cruz, III, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “NAPABA is committed to ensuring that hate crimes against the Asian American community are properly investigated and prosecuted. The expedited review of hate crimes reported to federal, state, and local law enforcement by the Department of Justice will increase accountability in addressing hate against our community, and establishing a platform for online reporting of hate crimes and incidents in multiple languages will allow more victims to come forward.”

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PRESS RELEASE: MENG, VELÁZQUEZ, CHU BILL WOULD ASSIST SMALL BUSINESSES HARMED BY CORONAVIRUS

SBA Disaster Loans Would be Made Available for Virus-Impacted Firms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the Chairwoman of CAPAC, have introduced legislation aimed at assisting small businesses that suffer economic harm from the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Queens and throughout New York City,” said Meng. “They enhance our neighborhoods, bring investment and innovation to local communities, and provide jobs to area residents. But concerns about the coronavirus have hit many small businesses hard. In fact, I have heard from many Asian American-owned small business owners in my district that they are severely struggling. We cannot let them suffer. Government must be a strong partner in helping small businesses succeed and we must not abandon them in their time of need. I call on all my colleagues to immediately pass this legislation so that our entrepreneurs and small businesses can get back on track. When small businesses succeed, America succeeds!”

“Small businesses around the country and in New York City are beginning to feel the economic effects of the coronavirus,” said Velázquez. “Many of our Asian-owned businesses in New York have already experienced a decline in sales due to misinformation, fear and stigma associated with the virus. The bill we’ve authored will help businesses access federal loans if they suffer losses related to the outbreak.”  

“The spread of COVID-19 has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but that has not stopped dangerous misinformation and xenophobia from spreading faster than the disease itself,” said Chu. “In my district, some Asian-owned businesses are reporting a 50% drop in customers, and that’s the case elsewhere around the country as well. For instance, in New York City, before there was even a single case of COVID-19, some restaurants saw as much as an 80% decline in customers. We have even seen instances of illegal, fraudulent letters that baselessly urge people to avoid Asian-owned businesses. These are serious losses that can have long-lasting impacts on our local economies. We cannot let misinformation and fear ruin communities and businesses. This bill would help by providing necessary assistance to help our Asian-owned businesses continue to operate in the face of a disaster they had no control over.”

Economists recently lowered the global forecasts for major economies from 2.6 percent to 2.4 percent. Much of the recent slowing of the economy is linked to the coronavirus, which has weakened demand in travel and tourism. Besides the decline in foot traffic for many retailers and restaurants, particularly those in Chinese communities, small firms have experienced challenges related to their supply chains. Companies sourcing products and services from China have had delays or complete cancellations of orders, resulting in lower profits for the company. Besides these challenges, small firms must start the process of preparing their companies for the potential to have employees become infected and remain home or telework. In many instances, a small employer may be unable to absorb the additional workforce reductions without a coinciding loss in productivity.

Under the bill, the “Small Business Relief from Communicable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act,” small businesses would be able to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which would otherwise have been met if it were not for the virus’ spread. The bill specifies that the loans would be interest free. Companies that are major employers could be potentially eligible for larger loans.

“Properly preparing for the impact of the coronavirus requires a multi-front strategy and that includes being ready to address the very real economic fallout we may see,” Velázquez added. “This legislation would be a good first step to help our small firms in New York and around the nation who sustain economic injury from COVID-19. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this measure.”

A copy of the bill is online here and a bill summary is available here.

From MinKwon: Immigrants’ Day of Action

Immigrants’ Day of Action

Join MinKwon and New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform to raise the voice of immigrants in New York City!

Date & Time: April 10, 12 p.m.
Place: Foley Square

On April 10th, we will stand united to call on lawmakers to enact policies that advance immigrant rights and services! We will start off the day with the New York Immigration Coalition and participate in legislative meetings with City Council Members to push City legislative and budget priorities. Then we will join New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform for a rally at Foley Square to demand Congress pass federal legislation to fix our broken immigration system. Join us to call for a just and fair America for all!
 
Mark your calendars!  RSVP with Jorim Rhee at jorim.rhee@minkwon.org or 718-460-5600.

Press Release from the Hispanic National Bar Association: Pulling Participation in the 2015 Annual Convention

Contact: Alba Cruz-Hacker, HNBA Executive Director
acruzhacker@hnba.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Hispanic National Bar Association Pulls its 2015 Annual Convention From Phoenix in Response to Arizona’s SB 1062

February 26, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The HNBA announced today that it has pulled its 40th Annual Convention previously scheduled for Phoenix, Arizona in September 2015.

On Monday, February 24th, the HNBA denounced the Arizona legislature’s passage of SB 1062. The HNBA also called for Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation and still hopes that she will do so. As set forth in its February 24th press release, SB 1062 discriminates against members of Arizona’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The proposed legislation also impacts other citizens that are either traveling through Arizona or that are doing business or have business interests in the state. Accordingly, the HNBA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to immediately pull the Annual Convention.

“The HNBA views this as a civil rights issue. As a national association of lawyers committed to promoting the ideals of equal protection, equal opportunity, tolerance, and inclusiveness, it is imperative that we speak up and take immediate action in the presence of injustice,” stated HNBA National President Miguel Alexander Pozo. As the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said more than 50 years ago, writing from a Birmingham, AL jail cell, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.“

As lawyers, we have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution as well as the laws of our respective states. “In our view, SB 1062 violates the Equal Protection and the Commerce Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and offends the anti-discrimination protections found in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Mr. Pozo.

While the HNBA will remain steadfast, and stand in solidarity with our Affiliate Los Abogados and our HNBA members in Arizona, by taking this action we are sending a clear message to Arizona lawmakers. “Laws that return us to a darker time in the nation’s history simply cannot be tolerated. SB 1062 and SB 1070 are two such laws,” said Mr. Pozo. 

About the Hispanic National Bar Association

The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is an incorporated, not-for-profit, national membership association that represents the interests of Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, law students, and legal professionals in the United States and its territories. Since 1972, the HNBA has acted as a force for positive change within the legal profession by creating opportunities for Hispanic lawyers and by helping generations of lawyers to succeed. The HNBA has also effectively advocated on issues of importance to the national Hispanic community. While we are proud of our accomplishments, we are mindful that our mission is as vital today as it was four decades ago, especially as the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow.

For more information, please visit http://www.hnba.com.

PRESS RELEASE: NAPABA CONDEMNS ARIZONA LEGISLATION THAT BOLSTERS BUSINESSES’ ABILITY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          February 24, 2014 

Contact: Emily Chatterjee                                                   (202) 775-9555

NAPABA CONDEMNS ARIZONA LEGISLATION THAT BOLSTERS
BUSINESSES’ ABILITY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE
Calls on Governor Jan Brewer to veto bill

WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) strongly urges Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto legislation passed by the Arizona state legislature last Thursday that, under the guise of religious freedom, would enable discrimination against individuals who identify as LGBT.

“NAPABA has a long-standing commitment to supporting the civil rights of all members of our community, including our LGBT brothers and sisters,” said William J. Simonitsch, president of NAPABA. “While NAPABA respects the sincerely held religious beliefs of all people, religion has unfortunately been misused by some historically as an excuse to oppress people of color and people of other religions. For many it justified slavery, segregation, and the criminalizing of interracial marriages. The employment of a religious justification to now excuse the discrimination of LGBT people is just as reprehensible.”

If Governor Brewer does not veto Arizona House Bill 2153/Senate Bill 1062 by this coming Friday, Arizona will soon allow individuals and for-profit corporations to discriminate against anyone if they claim to be acting in the name of their religious convictions. This includes refusing services to members of the LGBT community and denying equal benefits to women in the workplace. On its face, it could be used as justification for discriminating against anyone, on any grounds, so long as a free religious exercise claim is asserted.

“As a long-time citizen of Arizona and as a former President of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association, I believe that this bill does not represent our state, and we categorically denounce this and all legislation targeting disenfranchised groups, including the LGBT and immigrant communities,” said George C. Chen, president-elect of NAPABA. “Religious freedom is an important part of our society, but this bill is about legalizing discrimination, not about religious freedom. Governor Brewer needs to veto this bill.”

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 67 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.