JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today joined his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate in condemning racism and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the nation. The senator recognizes the invaluable contributions of more than two million AAPIs working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and urges everyone in New Jersey and across the country to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the AAPI community, which has endured a significant spike in targeted hate crimes and discrimination. The senator also mourns the eight lives lost, including six Asian-American women, in Tuesday’s shootings: Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.
“It is heartbreaking to see our AAPI brothers and sisters be the targets of heinous hate crimes, which have been fueled by some who have taken advantage of this pandemic to beat the drum of bigotry and xenophobia,” said Sen. Menendez. “In light of escalating violence against AAPI communities across the country during this pandemic, I am committed to doing everything in my power to root out all forms of discrimination and ensure the federal government has the tools needed to tackle race-fueled violence.”
Last week, Sen. Menendez joined Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and several of his colleagues in introducing the bicameral COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. This piece of legislation would address the significant increase in hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by assigning a point-person at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes, providing support for state and local law enforcement agencies to respond to these hate crimes, and coordinating with local and federal partners to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic.
This legislation was also cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and 55 members of the House of Representatives.
As a state legislator, Sen. Menendez authored New Jersey’s first hate crimes law in the wake of targeted attacks on Asian Americans, particularly the state’s Indian and Hindu communities, in the late 1980s. He has long championed efforts to support AAPI communities in New Jersey and across the country. Last year, the senator and his Democratic colleagues sounded the alarm about the increased harassment and violence against AAPIs and he has fought diligently to address COVID-19-related racial disparities.