Meng Commends Biden for Signing Presidential Memorandum to Combat Anti-Asian Hate and Racial Inequities Related to COVID-19
Jan 26, 2021
President’s action includes a number of the Congresswoman’s legislation; follows her efforts to fight the rise in bigotry and violence against the Asian American community, and address racial equities in COVID-19 response
QUEENS, NY. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) today commended President Biden for signing a presidential memorandum to address the anti-Asian sentiment that has spiked since the outbreak of the coronavirus, as well as actions to promote racial equity in COVID-19 response.
The memorandum takes action to combat this xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). It directs the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards AAPIs in the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It also directs the Department of Justice to partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment against AAPIs.
The presidential memorandum includes several pieces of legislation that Meng has sponsored including:
H.Res.908 that passed the House in September which seeks to strengthen language access, improve sensitivity toward Asian Americans, and prevent hate crimes.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (H.R.6721) which would expand data collection and hate crime reporting.
The COVID-19 Language Access Act (H.R. 6623) to expand COVID-19 materials into additional languages.
“I applaud President Biden for joining me and the Asian American community in standing against the disgusting racism that has been directed against Asian Americans,” said Meng. “I recently raised the issue of anti-Asian bigotry with President Biden and I thank him for swiftly moving forward to condemn and combat it.
The President’s actions are needed and welcome, and the directives in his presidential memorandum will go a long way towards protecting Asian Americans who for the past year have been forced to endure racial inequities due to the coronavirus crisis. It is critical to see the leader of our nation address this xenophobia and prejudice, and I am proud that he is doing so by including various legislation that I have also championed relating to the racial inequities and health disparities.
Since early last year, even before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in my state of New York, I have repeatedly advised the public and other elected officials to not blame the Asian American community for the spread of COVID-19. I fought tirelessly for months to pass my resolution. I also spoke out relentlessly and forcefully against the discrimination and violence we have seen across the country, bringing these concerns to the federal level, and denouncing in particular the rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and others who used terms such as ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan Virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’ that have further stoked and fueled attacks and acts of hate. I was proud to lead this effort with our now-Vice President Kamala Harris. I also saw the immediate need, and thereby, introduced multiple legislation addressing the increasing hate crimes against Asian Americans, plus the inequities of language access and cultural sensitivities. After all, no one should be denied access to COVID-19 response and care because of their ethnicity or language proficiency.
I called on President Biden to use his executive authorities to address these injustices. I am pleased that my actions and initiatives helped lead to this memorandum, especially within the first full week of President Biden taking office. Unlike the previous administration, President Biden understands the needs and concerns of the Asian American community. In signing his memorandum, the President said loud and clear that this intolerance against Asian Americans has no place anywhere in our country, and it underscores his commitment to lifting up and empowering those of Asian descent and tackling issues that have disproportionally impacted the Asian American community, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden to combat the increase in anti-Asian sentiment, and ensure that the crucial initiatives he laid out today are implemented, and benefit the Asian American community during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”