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Biden signs executive action on anti-Asian racism

Official White House photo via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Updated 11:20 a.m. Eastern Time Wednesday

Here is the full text of the memorandum signed by President Biden attacking racism against Asian Americans.

Updated 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Asian Americans Advancing Justice today joined in the chorus of those from the community heralding today’s action by President Biden to elevate action at the federal level to fight harassment and bullying of Asian Americans due to the coronavirus.

“Racist and xenophobic language should have no place in our government documents or policy,” the coalition of five independent community groups said in a joint statement. “It should have no place in our society at all. The presidential memorandum, announced today, will begin the process of accountability that we need to address the anti-Asian racism and xenophobia our communities have suffered during COVID-19, as well as the deep structural racism that has manifested itself throughout U.S. history. 

Updated 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans applauded today’s action by President Biden, becoming the first President to take action to combat anti-Asian hate during the pandemic.

It also urged Biden to prioritize Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in fighting the disease in that community.

“I applaud the order and stand in solidarity with Asian Americans,” said Tavae Samuelu, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) said. “It’s also important to note the specific ways Pacific Islanders have been impacted by the pandemic. We have the highest COVID-19 case and mortality rates in almost every state that disaggregates data– yet the National Strategy for the Biden administration fails to prioritize our communities and in some places omits us entirely. There is no racial equity in the erasure of Pacific Islanders.”

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are not a monolith, and we see evidence of this in the health disparities, increased levels of poverty, and higher rates of limited English proficiency among the Southeast Asian American communities,” added Katrina Dizon Mariategue, Acting Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. “While actions of hate have increased against all Asian Americans, COVID-19 has swept through Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Southeast Asian American communities and must be addressed directly by the Administration.”

Updated 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time

The Asian American community is reacting with enthusiasm with today’s action by President Biden to sign an executive memo addressing anti-Asian hate.

Late today, Gary Locke, Chairman-elect of the Committee of 100 and former Governor of Washington issued the following statement to AsAmNew:

“Committee of 100 supports the full inclusion and advancement of the more than 5 million Chinese Americans in the United States and believes that America is stronger because of its immigrant heritage and diversity,” said Locke. “We firmly reject all forms of prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination and stand together with other communities who have experienced systemic injustice and demand equity for all Americans.”

Zhengyu Huang, President of Committee of 100, added

“Today’s Presidential Memorandum, signed within the first two weeks of the Biden-Harris administration, showcases the critical importance of setting a U.S. agenda that includes the important contributions and voices of Chinese Americans and the Asian American community overall. We look forward to engaging directly with the Biden-Harris Administration in the weeks and months ahead, to combat negative stereotypes and foster positive actions and initiatives.”

Also today, Rep  Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) said “President Trump weaponized racism and xenophobia in 2020 by calling COVID-19 the ‘Kung Flu Virus’ and we are still witnessing increased hate speech and violence as a result. President Biden took a crucial step today in making sure our federal agencies combat xenophobia towards the Asian American community, and I applaud his quick leadership in the first full week of his administration. Congress must also act to ensure that no community is targeted during the duration of this public health crisis or at any other time.”

Updated 3:25 p.m. Eastern Time

The signing of the executive memos today asks the Justice Department today requires the Justice Department to take on civil rights abuses and to ensure fairness in the judicial system, CNN reported.

“Advancing equity for all — including people of color and others who have been historically underserved and marginalized — is the responsibility of the whole of our government,” the President said.

In addition to the actions confronting anti-Asian hate, Biden also called for the Justice Department to allow the contracts for private prisons to expire. He also acknowledged the part the federal government has played in discriminatory housing practices, Politico reported.

He instructed the Housing and Urban Development Department to ease restrictions under the Trump administration which makes it harder to sue for housing discrimination. In addition, Biden recommitted the federal government to recognizing the sovereignty of tribal governments over their own lands.

Updated: 2:23 p.m. Eastern Time

President Biden just minutes ago signed an executive memo asking the Justice Department to confront the growing racism confronting Asian Americans as part of a package on racial equity.

“We’ll hold the federal government accountable for advancing racial equity for families across America,” said Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy council director, according to The Guardian.

“The president has put equity at the center of his response to the Covid-19 and economic crises.”

This post will be updated.

From CSpan

President Joe Biden today is expected to sign an executive order or memo today to address anti-Asian racism.

CBS News reports the action is aimed at improving data on hate incidents against Asian Americans and to eliminate any discriminatory language in government policies or websites calling the coronavirus the China virus or similar references.

 “The idea that the president of the United States is not going to be hostile and not be a super spreader of hate is incredible, Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, said to CBS News. CAA is one of three groups behind the Stop AAPI Hate website tracking anti-Asian incidents. “I hope this order reverses the damage caused under the Trump administration, which used federal dollars and resources to create a hostile climate and led to backlash directed toward our community.” 

According to the South China Morning Post, today’s expected action will be aimed at countering discrimination against Asian Americans which may be connected to the Trump administration’s push for its China Initiative.

A letter signed by a coalition of Asian American groups urged President Biden to end that initiative and to investigate racial bias and hate against Asian Americans.

“The community is reacting to the immediate threat before them. They feel besieged because of the mass investigations … Trump’s rhetoric and the spike in hate crimes,” said Aryani Ong, an Asian American rights activist and former civil rights lawyer said to the Post. “This organizing represents an effort to stand up and announce that Asian Americans belong in the US and deserve to have their rights protected.”

Today’s action by Biden is part of a larger initiative today to deal with racial equity. Since taking office, he has signed more than 30 Executive Orders.

However, it’s not likely the Biden administration will ease some of Trump’s hardline policies against China. Last week the US declared the Chinese government committed genocide against the Uighurs. At least 1 million have been detained in forced labor camps, reported WBUR.

More recently, according to Bloomberg, President Biden’s nominee for Commerce Secretary,  Gina Raimondo, said the US must take “aggressive” steps to combat China’s “unfair” trade policies.

So far the Biden has not outlined actions it plans to take to deal with China.

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