ASIAN HATE CRIMES
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, hate crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have drastically increased. In fact, the national coalition of Stop AAPI Hate alone recorded more than 6,600 reports of hate incidents directed at AAPIs between February 2020 and March 2021.
The AAPI community of CA-16 needs a politician who will go beyond the partisan platitude to fight for Asian American interests. To stop Asian hate, I believe that we need to first ensure that hate crime perpetrators are prosecuted for their action. We should also work on expanding the AAPI political participation and representation to make sure our voices are heard.
Join my fight for the AAPI community
ADVOCATE ASIAN AMERICAN VOTING WITH #8BY8
In addition to Congressional representation, Asian American voices aren’t being heard in government as much as they should be because of low voter turnout. That is why I have founded the #8by8 Stop Asian Hate initiative to encourage AAPI voter turnout. Learn more at www.8by8.us.
STRENGTHENING HATE CRIME PROSECUTION
The hate crime bill introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Grace Meng took a step in the right direction by streamlining the collection of hate crime data and providing further training to local law enforcement agencies, but it failed to address the biggest concern: prosecution.
In the case of hate crimes, there is an extremely strong prosecutorial discretion. Since prosecutors face the extra and often excessive burden of proving that the crime is racially driven (“probable cause” in each and every element rather than “more likely than not”), many refrain from charging the suspect with hate crimes. For instance, recently, the Manhattan District Attorney office declined to prosecute Salman Muflehi as a hate crime perpetrator after he knifed a 36-year-old Asian American victim in Chinatown. A recent report even shows that, between 2005 and 2019, the Justice Department declined to prosecute 82% of hate crime suspects investigated.
I believe that we should both incentivize and equip prosecutors more tools to apply hate-crimes provision by
Changing the federal statutory definition of hate crimes in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HCPA) to clarify that race merely needs to be a substantial motivating factor in the offense, rather than the sole motivating factor. Previously, this strenuous interpretation of hate crime’s definition in the Sixth Circuit Court has hampered prosecution;
Changing the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines on “Vulnerable Victim” (§3A1.1) to allow prosecutors to add sentencing enhancements to defendants who target minorities, but who don’t actually hate the minorities. Such interpretation has been upheld in the Ninth Circuit (see U.S. v. Medrano), but not elsewhere. We need to clean this up with legislation and get rid of this discrepancy;
Providing funding and resources for state, local, and tribal agencies to create specific hate-crime prosecution units, in accordance with HCPA;
Pushing for Federal prosecutors to reexamine all cases where local prosecutors decline to prosecute as a hate crime;
Encouraging sentencing with restorative justice in mind to not only cure the harm brought onto the community, but also educate the perpetrators.
Prioritizing Federal investigation and prosecution of hate crime, considering that the second most-common reason (15%) for a U.S. attorney not to prosecute a hate crime suspect was prioritization of federal resources elsewhere;
Enacting legislation prohibiting individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor-level hate crimes from gun purchase, possession, or transfer;
Encouraging prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to form strategic partnership with Asian American community groups, particularly in ensuring equal language access in hate crime hotlines.
BUILD PREVENTATIVE HATE CRIME POLICIES
It is important to remember that most hate incidents we experience on the street, such as verbal harassment and shunning, do not amount to crimes. Ultimately, prevention and intervention are almost always more effective than prosecution. Thus, to fully fight back anti-Asian hate, we must adopt preventive, educational policies as well.
Addressing the Manifestations of Hate
Fight against race-based harassment in public transit and private businesses: I believe that the Department of Transportation should create a guideline for public transit agencies to train their personnel against hate incidents and make passenger reporting easier and accessible in all languages. Also, we need to enforce federal civil rights laws to ensure that private businesses—restaurants, pharmacies, retailers—uphold their affirmative responsibility to protect customers.
Fight against racialized bullying: according to a report by the Sikh Coalition and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), in 2013, 50 percent of Asian American youth surveyed in New York City have experienced racialized bullying and harassment in school. If not stopped, these incidents of “Junior Hate Crimes” can lead to more aggressive and deadlier behaviors. It is critical that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) prioritizes investigating these incidents of racialized bullying and vigorously enforces federal civil rights laws. In addition, we should amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Clery Act to specifically include hate crime prevention and response programs on campus.
Addressing the Root Causes of Hate
The ongoing hate against Asian Americans is a product of centuries of racism, discrimination, and inequality. Historically, Asian Americans have been perceived as “perpetual foreigners” in this country. A good example is the Japanese internment during WWII, when Japanese Americans--many of whom had never seen or been to Japan before--were treated as national enemies. Also, the lack of knowledge of the AAPI Experience leads to the easy conclusion of the “model minority”--a stereotype that not only hurts the Asian American community, but also undermines interracial solidarity. The only way to address the root causes of hate is to increase our visibility, change the narrative, and humanize our community.
I applaud Gov. Newsom and the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus for investing $156 million of the new state budget (the largest package by far) in victim support, community-based groups, mental health and educational resources, and other non-carceral alternatives to combat violence against Asian Americans.
I believe that Congress should similarly provide funding and support to Asian American community-based groups, which are often the first responders to incidents of hate. Also, we should increase the public exposure to the voices and histories of the Asian American community by expanding ethnic studies and diversifying our education beginning in grade school through a Department of Education grant program. In particular, the lack of knowledge of the AAPI Experience leads to the easy conclusion of the “model minority”--a stereotype that not only hurts the Asian American community, but also undermines interracial solidarity. Finally, In addition to education in formal academic settings, we must strengthen popular education as well by supporting media, museums, documentaries, ads, and other “experiences” to bring the AAPI narrative fully to the public. An important piece of that is to increase support for public-private partnership in creating AAPI documentaries, notably the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) and its partnership with PBS.
SUPPORTING ASIAN AMERICAN POLITICAL REPRESENTATION
America has become more diverse in the past decades, but our Congress has failed to reflect this change. Although Asian Americans constitute 5.7% of the U.S. population, Asian American Congressmen only amount to 3% of the Congressional membership. Similarly, in Santa Clara county, Asian Americans take up 39% of the population (the second largest group), but only 12.5% of the county elected officials are Asian.
We know the reason all too well: ever since I was kid, my parents instructed me to stay away from politics. Political scientists have told us that one of the biggest hurdles to minorities in office is that not enough of us run for office in the first place. Minority candidates often perceive themselves to be less qualified and therefore less electable than those who have the benefit of prior representation. Minority underrepresentation, in short, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and a feedback loop.
But we also know the price of inaction. On my paternal Japanese side of the family, my grandparents were put in internment camps, where my great grandfather passed away, and were forced to relinquish their wealth during WWII--yet no one, not even the ACLU, were willing to stand up for their rights.
As a 2nd generation Chinese American and a 4th generation Japanese American, I am no foreigner to America, nor to the struggle of an Asian American. I am not the first Asian American politician, and I won’t be the last. My pathways and motivation as a politician are closely ingrained in my passion for racial equity and Asian representation. Through listening to the constituents and engaging more citizens in activism, this campaign truly intends to restore the voices of the Asian American community.
Titles listed for identification purposes only
"This is a difficult time for the Asian American community: we feel besieged, attacked, and underrepresented. We need more people like Greg in Congress—people who will understand our grievances, stand up for our community, and restore the voices of those who can’t speak up themselves."