Albuquerque adopts language access and anti-Asian hate bills

Albuquerque adopts language access and anti-Asian hate bills
Albuquerque adopts language access and anti-Asian hate bills
Carl Samson
December 29, 2021
The city of Albuquerque in New Mexico has adopted two legislations that will benefit its Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community amid the surge in hate incidents brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the bills: Mayor Tim Keller signed the language access bill and the anti-AAPI hate bill in a virtual ceremony on Monday. The former aims to “make information and services more accessible to all city residents, regardless of their ability or English proficiency,” while the latter focuses on “condemning harmful rhetoric, racist acts and hate crimes targeting Asian-Pacific Americans” while also vowing to provide support to victims and the general AAPI community.
  • Under the language access bill, the Office of Equity and Inclusion will guide city departments in developing a “Language Access Plan,” which will require an annual budget. Each department will “designate a Language Access Coordinator” and “translate and maintain copies of all vital documents.”
  • The anti-AAPI hate bill acknowledges and condemns the spike in violence and crimes against Asian Americans amid the ongoing pandemic. It encourages Albuquerque to establish partnerships to protect the AAPI community, promote mental health resources and services available to victims, record and look into anti-AAPI incidents,  feature the contributions of businesses and organizations owned and led by AAPI community members and engage youth victims and perpetrators by using a restorative justice framework.
  • “This is about breaking down barriers created by language, so I’m honored to sign this today,” Keller announced.

The big picture: Asian Americans in Albuquerque have faced increased discrimination since the onset of COVID-19. National estimates project there are more hate incidents that occur than those that are reported, with language barriers seen as a contributing factor.
  • In March 2020, an Asian restaurant in Downtown Albuquerque became a target of racist vandalism. The perpetrator wrote, “Trucha with the coronavirus,” which means “Watch out for the coronavirus,” at the back of the businesses’ establishment, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
  • The city has also seen rallies against anti-Asian hate. In March, leaders organized one at Civic Plaza around two weeks after the Atlanta mass shooting that killed six Asian women.
  • More than 67,000 of about 846,000 residents in metro Albuquerque speak little to no English, according to city data. Among Asian communities, over 2,000 people only speak Vietnamese, more than 1,300 only speak Mandarin and the hundreds who speak languages such as Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and Thai have limited English proficiency. 
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