Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Rep. Sewell Votes to Strengthen Defenses Against Hate Crimes and Protect AAPI Communities

May 19, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) voted to pass S. 937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, landmark legislation that strengthens the nation’s defenses against hate crimes committed against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. This bipartisan bill, which will help combat the growing crisis of anti-AAPI discrimination and violence, will now go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“The rise in anti-Asian violence and hate during the COVID-19 pandemic is completely unacceptable,” said Rep. Sewell. “In Alabama and across the country, our AAPI brothers and sisters are living in fear of being targeted with slurs, physical intimidation and deadly violence.”

“I applaud the House and Senate for acting swiftly and was proud to cast my vote for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act today,” continued Sewell. “This critical legislation will help stem the tide of hatred and violence and send a clear message that bigotry should have no home in the United States of America.”

Following the spread of COVID-19, there has been a dramatic increase in discrimination, hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to a new report issued on May 6, over the last year more than 6,600 reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have been reported across all 50 states, with many more going unreported. 

President Joe Biden has taken swift action, including his Day One Executive Order to marshal federal resources to combat racism, xenophobia and bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and his March 30 announcement of additional steps to combat anti-AAPI hate.

Building on this progress, this vital bill will speed up and strengthen our response to hate crimes, including requiring the designation of an official at the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an expedited review of all COVID-related hate crimes. The bill also includes important provisions to improve the reporting of hate crimes, authorize grants to states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, support law enforcement agencies with training officers on how to identify hate crimes and help state and local governments develop a system for collecting hate crime data.

In April, S. 937 passed the Senate on a nearly unanimous vote, 94-1.  After being approved today by the House, the legislation will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.