US Sen. Warner urges DOJ to address rise in discrimination against Asian Americans during pandemic

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FILE – In this June 13, 2017, file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., listens during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Warner said an overhaul of the security clearance process is long overdue, particularly if the U.S. government is going to continue to attract top-notch workers and recent graduates, […]

WASHINGTON (WAVY) — U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has joined more than a dozen of his Senate colleagues in a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to address a rise in discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The senators wrote a letter to Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband asking the Civil Rights Division of the department to take “concrete” steps to quash hate crimes — as it has in the past — in particular communities.

“We write to express our deep concern about the surge in discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the currently inadequate federal response to address these racist and xenophobic attacks, a sharp break from the efforts of past administrations, Republican and Democratic alike,” the senators wrote.

The senators included information about the 20 million Americans that are of Asian descent; 2 million AAPI individuals are working on the front lines to fight the coronavirus.

The senators said Asian American organizations have received nearly 1,500 incident reports of anti-Asian harassment and discrimination.

“In the last month alone, Asian American organizations received nearly 1,500 incidents of anti-Asian harassment and discrimination against AAPI individuals across the country. This comes after the FBI assessed in March that hate crime incidents against Asian Americans were likely to surge across the country, endangering AAPI communities,” Warner’s office said in a news release.

The senators also said they were disappointed in the Department of Justice’s response — of lack thereof — to the rise in hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The senators are calling for a plan to address the rise in incidents, designation of an official to “coordinate an interagency response and a review of these incidents,” and release of monthly updates for Congress.

The letter is available here.


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