President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that passed through Congress in an increasingly rare show of bipartisanship. He and Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks ahead of the signing.
Harris, the first woman and person of Asian descent to hold the office of vice president, opened the ceremony by thanking lawmakers for their work on the legislation. Several Democrats were present to witness it, including Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who introduced the bill.
“To the members of our United States Congress on both sides of the aisle who helped pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, thank you,” she said to applause. “Because of you, history will remember this day and this moment when our nation took action to combat hate.”
Biden said he hopes the signing ceremony, which comes during Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, Heritage Month, sends this message to the Asian American community: “We see you.”
“For centuries, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, diverse and vibrant communities have helped build this nation only to be often stepped over, forgotten, or ignored,” he said. “My message to all of those who are hurting is, we see you. And the Congress has said, we see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias.”
The president also called the history of mistreatment against the AAPI community in the U.S. “un-American.”
“Silence is complicity. And we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act. That’s what you’ve done. And I can’t thank you enough,” Biden said. “I’m proud today.”