Working together to confront AAPI hate – Orange County Register
Many of my constituents are first generation Americans like me. They came to this country fleeing communism and persecution or seeking a better life, and they found freedom here. We are a nation of immigrants. The United States has served as a refuge for all who appreciate democracy and freedom, from all corners of the world, to live in peace and prosperity. For this reason, the United States remains the largest country in the world.
Unfortunately, contrary to these principles, our country has seen a sharp increase in hate crimes and incidents since the COVID-19 pandemic targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in recent years. Between March 19, 2020 and March 31, 2022, more than 11,450 hate incidents were reported against the AAPI community in all 50 states, territories, and Washington, D.C. In fact, in 2021, hate incidents against Native Americans Asia increased by 339%.
The accounts of these attacks are horrifying. On January 28, 2021, Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, a Thai immigrant, was assaulted outside his home in San Francisco. He never regained consciousness and later died of injuries he sustained in the attack.
On March 16, 2021, three spas owned by Asian Americans in Atlanta, Georgia were targeted, resulting in the violent murders of eight men and women, six of them Asian. This community will never be the same again.
In June 2021, Cesar Echano, a 70-year-old Filipino American in Cerritos, was assaulted while walking with his wife in Don Knabe Community Regional Park. The man shouted profanities, telling them they ‘don’t belong here’ and to ‘go back to your country’ before following them to their car and physically assaulting Mr Echano.
In January 2022, Hoa Nguyen, a 67-year-old Vietnamese grandmother, was walking down the street in Brooklyn, New York, on her way to the grocery store when she was hit several times in the head by an unknown person. The attacker admitted to police that he had targeted Ms Nguyen because of her race. Because of this senseless violence, she no longer feels safe walking down the street or taking public transport.
Many in the AAPI community feel the same way, fearing they are next. This evil must not be allowed to remain. No American should live in fear in their daily lives. It’s not who we are as a nation. Only together can we end the discrimination and hatred that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders face in Southern California and across the country. That’s why I led a bipartisan, bicameral resolution with 24 of my colleagues in the House of Representatives and a senator to stand with our neighbors and friends at AAPI in solidarity against this senseless violence.
First, our resolution makes it clear that Congress condemns all racism against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in any form. Second, we call on federal law enforcement to improve their cooperation with state and local authorities to improve reporting of hate crimes and to promptly and vigorously investigate all reports of hate crimes and threats. Finally, we call on law enforcement to bring the perpetrators of these horrific crimes, incidents and threats to justice. If you have been the victim of violence, I encourage you to report the incident to law enforcement. Together, we can protect our community from those who perpetuate these heinous acts.
My parents fled communism in North Korea to South Korea, where I was born. I grew up in Japan and came to the United States with my family, looking for opportunities. As a proud Korean American immigrant, I will never stop fighting for the dignity and prosperity of all Asian Americans.
We live in the greatest country in the world, but we always strive to live up to the mission, stated in our Constitution, to “form a more perfect union”. We must constantly work to uphold these values and ensure equal opportunities for all. Opportunity to live in safety, without fear of discrimination or violent hatred. I invite you to join me in standing firm alongside our AAPI friends and neighbors against hate.
Only together can we protect and preserve the principles of this nation we all love.
Michelle Steel represents the 45th congressional district.
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