The United States Commission on Civil Rights has released a report titled “The Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States,” which assesses the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. from 2019 to 2021 and evaluates the federal government’s role in addressing and enforcing hate crime laws.
About the report: The report focuses on three main areas: national trends in hate incidents against Asian communities, the practices of local and state law enforcement in preventing and reporting hate crimes and federal efforts to encourage reporting and enforce hate crime prevention.
As part of the study, the Commission conducted a public briefing on March 24, 2023, where experts and impacted individuals provided input. This bipartisan report is the first of its kind since 2019.
Rise in hate crimes: From March 20, 2020, to December 31, 2021, Stop AAPI Hate’s reporting center documented 10,905 reported hate incidents targeting individuals of Asian descent.
According to the Commission, alternative names used by the media and government officials to refer to COVID-19, like “Chinese virus” and “kung flu,” contributed to the negative perceptions of Asian individuals and communities. This resulted in stereotypes, racism and xenophobia directed towards Chinese people or those perceived as Chinese.
Barriers to prevention: The report highlights that language barriers hinder the reporting of incidents, and many incidents, even if they don’t meet legal hate crime criteria, still evoke fear and are not accounted for in official statistics, according to Commission Chair Rochelle Mercedes Garza.
Another major impediment is the lack of comprehensive data and reporting in understanding the severity of hate crimes against individuals of Asian descent. The report notes that the transition to the NIBRS data collection system has been slow for some agencies, leading to incomplete data.
Suggestions: According to Garza, the Commission proposes a “holistic strategy” to combat anti-Asian hate incidents, including improvements in data collection, legal enforcement, community support and education initiatives.
The Commission recommends urging prosecutors and law enforcement to vigorously investigate and prosecute hate crimes against Asian Americans and providing first responders with training on identifying hate crimes. It also highlights the need to address language barriers in federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and victim services.