WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest ranking Latino in the U.S. Congress and author of New Jersey’s first hate crimes law, today applauded the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and issued the following statement:

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have witnessed cowards who ascribe to racist, bigoted, and white supremacist ideologies exploit this dark moment in American history to commit hate crimes and discriminate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. These violent actions have exacerbated a long and shameful history of unacceptable, dangerous, and all too often deadly biases that have long targeted the AAPI community in America – further inflamed by the racist tropes and dog whistles of the previous administration and far too many elected officials.
“I have met with and heard from leaders throughout New Jersey’s Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and I can tell you that the threats are real, the fear they feel is real, and the hate held in some people’s hearts is real. While many of my Democratic colleagues and I have spent the last year sounding the alarm about this violence, former President Donald Trump and too many other elected officials promoted bigoted language and turned a blind eye to the steady stream of images capturing Asian Americans being brutally attacked and, in some cases, killed. And while some have now joined us to address this crisis, nearly 3,800 hate incidents have already been reported nationwide and far too many in the AAPI community now live in constant fear.
“We have no more time to lose. This bill addresses that stark reality and allows the federal government to begin to mitigate the growing danger to the AAPI community and address the anti-AAPI rhetoric and violence that has spread like wildfire across our country. It is my sincere hope that, with the passage of this bill, we can start to restore the AAPI community’s faith in our government and its commitment to protecting them, rebuild the trust we have lost, and reaffirm our unequivocal commitment as a country to eradicate hate in America.”