The United States House of Representatives passed legislation that would help reduce the rising number of hate crimes against Asian residents in the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature.

The House voted unanimously for the passing of the measure which was previously approved by the Senate. Officials voted 364-62 in favor of the bill which tells the U.S. Justice Department to prioritize handling violent crimes on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Hate Crime Bill

Police have observed a massive rise in the frequency of violent, racially motivated crimes against the AAPI community in the last year. A recent incident resulted in the death of six women of Asian descent when a suspect opened fire in Georgia last March.

“For more than a year, Asian Americans all across our nation have been screaming out for help. We’ve all heard the sickening stories and seen the horrifying videos of Asian Americans being beaten, slashed, and spat on,” Representative Grace Meng said.

Meng is the lead sponsor of the bill and denounced Asian hate when the Senate passed the bill by a 94-1 vote.

Many law enforcement personnel and Asian American advocates have criticized former President Donald Trump’s political rhetorics as fueling the fire of hate crimes. Many other politicians also openly blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic that was first reported in the Asian country.

Legal experts have a difficult time prosecuting suspects for hate crimes. But with the help of the new bill, a hotline was created for local prosecutors who are looking for assistance in those cases and those who are still in training.

The bill also has the Jabara-Heyer “No Hate” Act that assists law enforcement in reporting for hate crimes. It provides additional assistance and resources for victims of hate crimes in the country, Aljazeera reported.

Politicians named the Act after Lebanese American Khalid Jabara who died after a racist neighbor in Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked him in 2016. The second name was from Heather Heyer who was killed in a vehicle attack when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.