Mar 18, 2021
House Hearing on Discrimination and Violence Against Asian Americans Transcript March 18
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on rising discrimination and violence against Asian Americans on March 18, 2021. Read the transcript of the full hearing here with testimony from several Asian American lawmakers.
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Mr. Cohen: (00:00)
Well, liberties will come to order. Without objection, the chair is authorized at the fair recess to the subcommittee at any time. I welcome everyone to today’s hearing on discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans. Before we begin this meeting, I would like to ask that we have a moment of silence in memory of the individuals tragically killed, murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you. I’d like to remind members that we have established an email address and distribution list dedicated to circulating exhibits, motions, or other written materials and members may want to offer as part of our hearing today. If you’d like to submit those materials, site is firstname.lastname@example.org, we will distribute them to the members and staff as quickly as possible. Also, I ask unanimous consent that our judiciary committee colleagues, Representatives [inaudible 00:00:59] participate in today’s hearing. Hearing no objection, I welcome into our subcommittee. You’ll be able to question our witnesses if they are yielded time by subcommittee members.
Mr. Cohen: (01:07)
Finally, I would ask all members, both those in person and those appearing remotely to mute your microphones when you’re not speaking, this will help prevent feedback and other technical issues and unmute yourself when you are recognized. I’ll now recognize myself for an opening statement.
Mr. Cohen: (01:23)
While there’s still many details to be learned about Tuesday’s horrific shootings in Atlanta, that left eight people dead, six of them, reportedly Asian descent, one thing is certain. For many Asian Americans, Tuesday’s shocking events felt like the inevitable culmination of a year in which they were nearly 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate incidents that grew increasingly more violent over time as the COVID-19 pandemic worsen and some people wrongly blamed Asian-Americans or implied such by calling it the China Virus. These incidents include cases of verbal harassment, being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter, or shoved violently to the ground. And that number of reported incidents is just likely the tip of the iceberg.
Mr. Cohen: (02:14)
I want to make clear that all Asian-Americans who are understandably feeling hurt and afraid right now, and wondering whether anyone else in America cares, that Congress sees you, we stand with you and we would do everything in our power to protect you. Any Asian hate did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic and it will not end when the pandemic is over. All the pandemic did was exacerbate latent anti Asian prejudices that have a long and ugly history in America. It also provided an excuse for some to act on those prejudices. In fact, there’ve been discrimination against lots of people in this country and all of that has been exacerbated, but the Asian situation has been the most extreme.
Mr. Cohen: (02:58)
Pandemics, wars, geopolitical tensions, and economic competition, and the fear and resentment that these situations create have historically provided the conditions for anti-Asian racism and xenophobia to take root, often leading to tragic consequences for Asian-Americans. For example, social and economic resentment against Chinese laborers in the 1800s led to the enactment of Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred nearly all immigration from China. And the 1924 immigration act effectively barred immigration from all Asian countries. In 1942, the United States government committed the most sweeping violation of civil liberties and American history, other than slavery itself, when it ordered the forest interment of 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of them second and third generation Americans during the second World War based, not on any legitimate national security concerns, but on the racist and xenophobic assumption that Americans of Japanese ancestry would be disloyal. In 1982, Chinese American Vincent Chen was beaten to death by two white auto workers because attackers thought he was Japanese and therefore, responsible for the decline of the US automobile industry.
Mr. Cohen: (04:09)
On September 15, 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona was murdered by a man who blamed him for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To this list, we now add the most recent victims of anti-Asian hate as Asian-Americans are wrongfully blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic. While many of the recent any Asian incidents may not meet legal definition of hate crime, these attacks nonetheless create an unacceptable environment of fear and terror and Asian-American communities. Attacks like the one on 84 year old Vicha Ratanapakdee on January 28 of this year, was on a walk in his neighborhood, he was walking in his neighborhood. He was violently slammed to the ground. He died a few days later from the brain trauma that he sustained. And now I’d like to play a video of that attack caught by a nearby surveillance camera.
Mr. Cohen: (05:16)
Sadly, this incident was one of several recent ones where elderly Asian-Americans were similarly knocked violently to the ground. Left unchecked, racist attitudes, stoked by racist rhetoric can have deadly consequences for innocent people, as we’ve just witnessed in that sad clip. In such a fraught time as the ones that we’re living in is incumbent on all public officials, elected or otherwise, and public figures to speak out against the irrational hatreds and prejudices that could overtake society in the face of a national emergency.
Mr. Cohen: (05:48)
In short, words matter. Indeed, the wrong words can be very harmful leaders who promote stereotypes or use rhetoric aimed at a particular ethnic or racial group can cause increases in levels of discrimination or violence directed against that group. When politicians use terms like China Virus or Kung Flu, to refer COVID-19 is the effect, intentional or not, putting a target on the backs of all Asian-Americans.
Mr. Cohen: (06:23)
Used the right way, however, words from our leaders can help calm fears, reassure those feeling under threat, and remind everyone that we all share the same basic negativity as human beings and that we should treat each other accordingly. Thankfully, we had two panels of witnesses who can help show us the way forward, particularly with their testimony. As best we can tell this the last time it was a congressional hearing, specifically focused on anti-Asian hate was in 1987, before this subcommittee. That hearing took place during another time when economic and social problems were being blamed on an Asian country and by unfair extension, Asian-Americans. We can’t ever forget Asian-Americans, not Asians, Asian-Americans. Clearly more work needs to be done and let us use this hearing as a chance to do better.
Mr. Cohen: (07:15)
Now, like to recognize… Because the ranking member’s not here, Mr. Roy, you’re taking his place.
Mr. Roy: (07:21)
Mr. Cohen: (07:22)
In lieu of Mr. Johnson, Mr. Chip Roy of Texas, will give the statement for the minority as the ranking member. You’re recognized for five minutes, Mr. Roy.
Mr. Roy: (07:32)
Well, thank you, Chairman Cohen, and appreciate our gathering here today. This is obviously an important subject matter and to be clear, all Americans deserve protection and to live in a free and secure society. And the fundamental nature of what we expect out of government, right? Secure the blessings of Liberty as we say in the Constitution of the United States. The victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice. And this is the case, what we’re talking about here with the tragedy, what we just saw occur in Atlanta, Georgia, I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice, the American citizens in South Texas that are getting absolutely decimated by what’s happening on our Southern border, deserve justice, the victims of riding alluding in the streets last week, businesses closed burned last summer deserve justice. We believe in justice, right?
Mr. Roy: (08:25)
There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall Oak tree. We take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe. My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taken bad guys. And as a former federal prosecutor, I’m kind of predisposed and wired to want to go take out bad guys. And that’s bad guys of all colors, that’s bad guys of all persuasions, that’s bad guys targeting people for all different reasons. And I think we need to be mindful of that.
Mr. Roy: (09:15)
And so now we’re talking about whether talking about China, the Chi Coms, the Chinese communist party, whatever phrasing we want to use. And if some people are saying, “Hey, we think those guys are the bad guy guys.” For whatever reason. And let me just stay clearly, I do. I think the Chinese Communist Party, running the country of China, I think they’re the bad guys. And I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern day slavery and I think that what they’re doing to Uighurs and I think what they’re doing targeting our country, and I think that what they’re doing to undermine our national security, and what they’re doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they’re doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation. And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus, this is equally deserving of condemnation.
Mr. Roy: (10:14)
There’s hardly any getting around that that in fact happened, right? We’ve got the World Health Organization on Twitter saying, “Preliminary investigation conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human to human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” WHO had to go back and redo all of that. We know full well. I’ve got a bill that I introduced to posthumously award, a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Li Wenliang for coming out and exposing what the Chinese communist government had done to hide the virus.
Mr. Roy: (10:46)
Dr. Wenliang was a 34 year old ophthalmologist in Wuhan, China, who died from the 2019 coronavirus after he sought to draw attention to the spread of the virus. Research indicates the first patient infected exhibited symptoms in early December, 2019. On January 3rd, after raising concerns about the spread Dr. Wenliang and seven other doctors were detained and questioned by Chinese officials. He was forced to sign a statement retracting his warnings and confessing he spread illegal rumors. That’s the reality and then he ended up dying, but he was beaten. They were targeted for engaging in free speech, for trying to bring to light what was happening.
Mr. Roy: (11:23)
And that’s the reality of what I tend to refer to as the Chi Coms. And I’m not going to be ashamed of saying I oppose the Chi Coms, I oppose the Chinese Communist Party. And when we say things like that, and we’re talking about that, we shouldn’t be worried about having a committee of members of Congress policing our rhetoric because some evil doers go engage in some evil activity as occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. Because when we start policing free speech, we’re doing the very thing that we’re condemning when we condemn what the Chinese Communist Party does to their country. And that’s exactly where this wants to go. This is the road this wants to head down, and nothing could be more dangerous than going down that road because who decides what is hate? Who decides what is the kind of speech that deserves policing? A panel? Panel of this body? A panel in the executive branch? A panel in the Department of Justice?
Mr. Roy: (12:32)
And then what does that mean? Who’s deciding when we get into making crimes out of thought crimes out of speech, as opposed to crimes out of the actions of evildoers? Find those who perpetrated what happened in Atlanta. Find those who engage in hate of all forms and punish the absolute hell out of them. But don’t go around policing thought. And then, I have one other thing. I hope today’s hearings will examine discrimination against Asian-Americans in educational settings, a matter that the Trump administration prioritized took seriously and acted upon. In October, for example, the department of justice sued Yale for race and national origin discrimination after determining that Yale was noncompliant with Title Six of the ’64 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits federal financial assistance to any program engaged in racially discriminatory practices.
Mr. Roy: (13:25)
Following a two year investigation, the Department of Justice concluded that Asian American and white students have only one 10th to one fourth of the likelihood of admissions as African-American applicants with comparable academic credentials. The Justice Department alleged that Yale discriminated against Asian-Americans by favoring certain applicants based upon the race, rather than looking for race-neutral alternatives to achieve the university’s goals. As then Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division explained, “All persons who apply for admission to colleges and universities should expect to know that they will be judged by their character, talents and achievements and not the color of their skin. To do otherwise, to permit our institutions to foster stereotypes, bitterness, and division.”
Mr. Roy: (14:03)
I couldn’t agree more. However, only two weeks into president Biden’s term, the Biden ministration suddenly reversed course and dropped the lawsuit against Yale. Mr. Chairman, I’ll close, but I’ll just say, I hope this is the direction we’ll go. I hope we’ll look at this. And we’ll look through the lens of clarity and objective truth, trying to seek justice and not trying to police speech and trying to the objectives we want to achieve. And I thank the chairman.
Mr. Cohen: (14:25)
Thank you, Mr. Roy. And before I recognize the chairman for his statement, I just like to reiterate that while speech is important and it has meaning, the incidents I mentioned in my opening statement were being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter, and shoved violently to the ground as the video showed. That’s not speech.
Mr. Roy: (14:47)
Well, just a reminder, I didn’t suggest it was speech.
Mr. Cohen: (14:51)
That’s not speech, that’s action. I’d like to recognize the chairman for his opening statement, Mr. Nadler.
Mr. Nadler: (14:58)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, we’re here today to address the horrific rise in violence, harassment, and discrimination against Asian-Americans that is surging across the country. As we convene this hearing, our thoughts are with the victims, but especially the Asian-American victims in Georgia who were brutally murdered on Tuesday night. Although the motive is still to be investigated, the effect on the Asian American community has been profound. And it is certainly appropriate for us to address the fear gripping the Asian American community. So I want to thank the chairman for convening this hearing. Hate crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans have been on the rise since 2017. Last year alone, nearly 3,800 incidents were reported, with about 68% of Asian-Americans reporting that they have experienced racial slurs or verbal harassment since the pandemic began. Distressingly, one of the largest increases in the country of hatred and violence against Asian-Americans has occurred in my own congressional district in New York City. This short clip shows just some of the verbal and physical abuse many Asian Americans have faced in recent years.
News Anchor: (16:12)
A wave of violent, unprovoked attacks against Asian-Americans consuming the city of New York. A 56 year old man in Manhattan this week, pummeled for no apparent reason. A man riding the subway, sliced across his face from cheek to cheek. A woman viciously shoved in Queens. A 71 year old woman punched in her face in Chinatown. A 36 year old man stabbed in the back, now fighting to stay alive.
Mr. Nadler: (16:40)
Last February, a woman was hit in the face on the subway and called diseased. Last March, a Chinese American dad from Queens and his 10 year old son were harassed and attacked by an assailant was screaming at him for appearing to be Chinese. Last April, an Asian-American woman in Brooklyn suffered significant burns after a chemical attack. Last July, an 89 year old grandmother in Bensonhurst was attacked and set on fire by two men. Just last month, a New Yorker was slashed across the face with a box cutter. He needed more than a hundred stitches. Also last month, in separate incidents on the same day, two elderly women were punched in the face on the subway. A few weeks ago, a man was stabbed outside of the federal courthouse. Just this Tuesday, a woman in Midtown had an unknown liquid poured on her neck. As she was picking up packages. The common denominator, all of the victims were Asian-American or Asian descent.
Mr. Nadler: (17:44)
These are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, our constituents and fellow Americans and that is not only severe violence that Asian Americans in New York have had to fear, there’s also been a barrage of verbal attacks and discrimination against the community. New Yorkers have had racially derogatory remarks written onto the outside of their restaurants and flyers posted around New York City neighborhoods, blaming Asian Americans for the virus. Many of these attacks gone reported and official statistics represent only a fraction of hate crimes or hate incidents. These examples are certainly not exhaustive. And the harassment, the abuse and violence extend to communities across the country. We have witnessed Asian-Americans bloodied and beaten in stores, learned that Asian-American parents fear sending their children back to schools because of racial violence and observed harrowing videos of verbal attacks aimed at Asian-Americans in our public spaces.
Mr. Nadler: (18:42)
And perhaps even more heartbreaking, we have seen Asian American frontline workers battle, not only the pandemic, but also racism and disproportionately high death rates. It’s important to recognize that this surge did not spontaneously rise only at a fears regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Some of this blame lies squarely on political leaders who have demonized China, both because of the virus and ongoing geopolitical tensions. And in turn, Asian Americans have fallen apart way. Words have power. What we say matters. How we treat each other matters. The experts patients and standards we set and how we address this pandemic matter. The conversation we are having today is long overdue, and it is vital that Congress shine a light on this issue. Excuse me.
Mr. Nadler: (19:36)
The last congressional hearing held on violence against Asian Americans was in 1987 in this subcommittee. 34 years is too long for Congress to leave this issue untouched. Our government must thoroughly investigate and swiftly address growing tensions and violence against the Asian American community, especially in light of the pandemic because lives and livelihoods are truly at stake.
Mr. Nadler: (20:02)
Last week, we reached the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in this country, a solemn and difficult moment for our nation as we reflected on all we have suffered and lost, but such hardship can not be used as an excuse for dismissing the pain of our fellow Americans, enabling discrimination against them, or de-valuing their sense of belonging and citizenship. Today, we are privileged to have our fellow members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, testifying about their personal experiences. In addition, we have an expert panel that will walk us through the rise in discrimination and violence and its impact on the community as well as historical perspectives and challenges to inform our legislative efforts moving forward. I look forward to hearing how we can better ensure protection, justice, and healing for our Asian American neighbors in this time of crisis and moving forward. Thank you. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (20:59)
Thank you, Mr. Nadler. We welcome our witnesses and thank them for today’s hearing. I will now introduce each of the witnesses and after each introduction, we’ll recognize that witness for his or her oral testimony. Please note that each of your written statements will be entered into the record in its entirety, accordingly, I asked you to summarize your testimony in five minutes. To help you stay within that five minutes while you’re testifying, there’s a timing light on your table, but of course we don’t have a table. Is there a process on screen?
Speaker 1: (21:33)
Mr. Cohen: (21:34)
So that on the screen they can see if it’s green, you’re good. If it’s yellow, you’re on the last minute. And if it’s red, finish it. That means your five minutes are up. And that’s on your WebEx view.
Mr. Cohen: (21:51)
Before proceeding with the testimony, I’d like to remind all the witnesses appearing on the panel that you have a legal obligation for truthful testimony and answers. Any false statements you make today could subject you to prosecution under Section 1001 of Title 18, United States Code. Today, we have two witness panels. Our first panel will be members. Our first witnesses, representative Doris Matsui. Congressman Matsui represents the sixth congressional district for California, has represented that areas of Sacramento and Environs since 2005. Congressmen Matsui, you are recognized for five minutes. Congressmen Matsui, you are recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Cohen: (22:47)
Apparently there’s a technical problem with WebEx and not with my iPad. We’re going to recess for as much time as it’s necessary to correct this error. Technology is not perfect.
Speaker 1: (23:17)
Doris, can you hear me?
Speaker 2: (23:22)
I can hear you and I can hear Doris as well, but they went blank there from the committee. I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out right now-
Mr. Cohen: (23:29)
Can you hear me?
Speaker 1: (23:31)
Because all of a sudden I can’t hear anything.
Mr. Cohen: (23:32)
Can you hear me now?
Speaker 2: (23:33)
I know they went blank and then they went silent. So I’ve sent messages to the…
Speaker 3: (23:39)
We’re working on to the tech issue.
Speaker 4: (23:41)
I’m experiencing the same thing.
Speaker 2: (23:44)
Mr. Cohen: (23:45)
We can hear you.
Speaker 2: (23:46)
I will mute myself again then.
Mr. Cohen: (23:48)
We can hear you. If you can hear us wave your arms. They can’t hear us. Does anybody hear me? Does anybody care? This is the Chicago Transit Authority. Hello? Hello? Jamie, do you hear me? Good work team.
Mr. Cohen: (28:21)
Jamie Raskin? Doris Matsui? Abraham Lincoln?
Speaker 5: (28:21)
Thanks for waiting. We’ll let the host know that you’re here.
Mr. Cohen: (30:36)
Speaker 2: (31:18)
Testing. I’m going to guess they can’t hear us still.
Speaker 6: (32:00)
(silence). Testing. Nod your heads or wave if you can hear me. Awesome.
Mr. Cohen: (32:41)
The hearing will now come back to order. Now being in order, I recognize the distinguished lady from Sacramento, California, the Honorable Doris Matsui, for five minutes.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (33:10)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and members of the committee for this opportunity to testify. I’m very proud to join this distinguished panel of our colleagues, and yet, I wish it were not necessary for us to be here under such troubling circumstances to address the disturbing spike in discrimination and violence against AAPI communities across the nation. Just a couple of days ago, eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent, were shot and killed outside of Atlanta. This latest attack stands as a horrible reminder of the fear and pain felt by the AAPI community across this country.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (33:50)
I lived an American story. I grew up on a farm in California, went to UC Berkeley, got a great public education. I got married, settled in Sacramento with my husband. We raised our son, and I had the privilege to work in public service in the White House, and here in Congress, where we work together on issues of healthcare, and clean energy, and all the issues that really do define us as a country, but I have a responsibility and a moral obligation to speak out about the normalizing of attacks on the AAPI community.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (34:25)
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve heard constant hostile rhetoric directed at the AAPI community, including from leaders at the highest levels of our government. There is a systemic problem here, and we are duty-bound to stop the spread of xenophobic and racist ideas that have escalated to physical threats. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who fought against discrimination in her remarkable life, used to talk about her mother, and ask questions what the difference was between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn’s garment district and a Supreme Court Justice? Her answer: one generation. This kind of family history is essential to understanding American history. We all share the charge to ensure that our country not only learns from, but does not forget its past.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (35:14)
Because of my history and background, I know I have a duty to speak up. Future generations are listening, especially my grandchildren. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, approving the removal of American citizens of Japanese descent to remote camps. My parents and grandparents were among 120,000 forced to leave their homes and businesses. They were sent by their own government, our government, to a camp in Poston, Arizona. They lived in appalling conditions, surrounded by a barbed wire fence, armed guards on towers, incarcerated solely because of their ancestry.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (35:56)
Despite the good fortune in my life, I am not even one generation removed from that experience. I was born in the Poston Internment Camp, but because I was a baby, I have no personal memories, and my parents rarely talked to me about their time there. I had an ordinary childhood. I think my parents didn’t want to burden me with that experience, they just wanted me to move forward and reach for the stars. I would hear conversations from time to time about life in the camp. I sort of knew what happened, but I did not realize at that time how much their lives had been turned upside down. It’s when I went to college that I met students whose parents were very effected by the internment, and we started talking. The vast majority of the people who were sent to camp were American citizens, and you wonder, how did this happen? It was then that we all realized that we had to learn more about it. It is part of our family history, it is part of American history. During World War II, many were blinded by prejudice. Our government and many US leaders advanced the myth that the Japanese American community was inherently the enemy. Americans across the country believed it, [inaudible 00:37:13] to institutionalized racism and acted on it. It was not uncommon to accuse an innocent person of violating our country’s trust, with no evidence. This societal trust shift to accept and normalize wrongdoing was exactly what kept Japanese Americans in prison for over three years. These were Americans who previously lived normal lives. They owned homes, shops, farmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, just regular folks who were betrayed by their country because of a dangerous spiral of injustice.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (37:50)
Last year, when I heard it at the highest levels of government, those people used racist slurs like, “China virus,” to spread xenophobia and cast blame on innocent communities, it was all too familiar. Comments like these only build upon the legacy of racism, anti-Asian sentiment, and insensitivity that seeks to divide our nation. So yes, I was deeply shaken by the [inaudible 00:38:19] recurrence in our nation. The heated discourse at the highest levels of our government cannot be viewed in isolation from ensuing showing violence in our communities. The fear of the other, whether racial, religious, or tribal, that works to suppress the better angels of our nature, we’ve seen the consequences when we go down this path. My family has lived through these consequences. This is what we are working to root out from the deepest place in our social conscience. After the incarceration of the Japanese American community, our country moved on for decades without coming to terms with what our government did, and what many Americans turned a blind eye to. It took decades for testimonies to be heard in Congress. It took decades for lawmakers to hear our pain.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: (39:11)
My late husband, Bob Matsui, was first elected to Congress in 1978, and served on the Ways and Means Committee. He loved that work, but because of his parents’ experience with the Japanese American community, he passionately believed that justice could not be denied, and therefore devoted an enormous amount of time and dedication to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, by which the United States Government apologized, a token compensation for the Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated. Bob said on the floor debate on that legislation, that he believed that it was possible because this is a great and wonderful country. Today’s hearing is another reminder that our country is capable of growth, that this legislative body will no longer sit in silence while our communities suffer racism and hatred. Now is the time to commit, recommit to moving forward with a shared vision for our future, based upon basic human dignity. Again, I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member, and I yield back. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (40:17)
Thank you, Congresswoman Matsui for that history and that testimony. Our next witness is Representative Judy Chu. Congresswoman Chu represents the 27th Congressional District of California, which includes Pasadena Polytechnic School, and the San Gabriel Valley, in that order. She’s been a member of Congress since 2009. Among other things, she’s Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Congresswoman Chu, you’re recognized for five minutes. Congresswoman Chu, you need to unmute. Unmute.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (41:03)
Thank you so much.
Mr. Cohen: (41:10)
We hear you.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (41:10)
Thank you Chairman Adler, Ranking Member Jordan, Subcommittee Chairman Cohen, Ranking Member Johnson, and other distinguished members of the committee for the opportunity to testify before you today. It is with a heavy heart that we are here today, still shocked and heartbroken about the murder of eight in Georgia, including six Asian American women, by a gunman who targeted three Asian businesses, the first one being Young’s Asian Massage, then driving 27 miles to two other Asian spas. His targets were no accident, and what we know is that this day was coming. And because of crimes like this, I, as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, or CAPAC, urge the committee to undertake this hearing, because the Asian American community has reached a crisis point that cannot be ignored.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (42:10)
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have been terrified by the alarming surge in anti-Asian bigotry and violence we have witnessed across our nation. In fact, it was over one year ago that CAPAC first began to sound the alarm bells about the anti-Asian discrimination we were beginning to see, due to misinformation and stigma that wrongly associated Asian Americans with the coronavirus. But what started out last January’s dirty looks and verbal assaults, has escalated to physical attacks and violence against innocent Asian Americans, and these attacks have increasingly become more deadly.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (42:51)
Just as many Asian Americans were preparing for the Lunar New Year last month, we saw a surge in anti-Asian violence. Many of the victims have been older and vulnerable, like Vichar Ratanapakdee, an 84 year old Thai man in San Francisco who was killed in an unprovoked assault while on his morning walk. In New York, 61 year old Noel Quintana’s face was slashed from ear to ear with a box cutter in the subway, requiring 100 stitches. In Oakland’s Chinatown, a camera captured a 91 year old man being thrown to the ground by an assailant. In my own congressional district, a Chinese American man was attacked at a bus stop in Rosemead, with his own cane, causing him to lose part of his finger.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (43:38)
This has become almost a daily tragedy and has had a chilling effect on our community. Today, we find that there have been nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in just the year alone. They were stoked by the words of former President Donald Trump, who sought to shift blame and anger away from his own flawed response to the coronavirus. He used racial slurs like, “Wuhan virus,” “China plague,” and “Kung flu,” despite the back that the CDC and the World Health Organization warned not to associate the virus with a specific ethnicity, country, or geographic region, due to the stigma it causes. Immediately, we in CAPAC took Donald Trump on about this racist terminology. We issued statements, held press conferences, and sent letters, but our pleas and the guidance from experts were ignored. Instead, he doubled down on using these slurs, directing more hate and blame at the Asian American community.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (44:40)
Over the past year, hostile anti-Asian COVID comments on Twitter increased by 900%, and we saw a nearly 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in major US cities. And even though Donald Trump is no longer president, I believe the most recent round of anti-Asian attacks are the aftermath of one year of hateful attacks and four years of ugly comments about immigrants and people of color. That’s why I’m so grateful that we have a new president, Joe Biden, who is working to stop these attacks, not incite them. Within his first week as president, President Biden issued a presidential memorandum to combat and condemn xenophobia against AAPIs, and ensure that the Department of Justice works with our community to address these surging hate crimes.
Congresswoman Judy Chu: (45:31)
But Congress must do its part as well. That’s why CAPAC pushed for legislation, such as Congresswoman Grace Meng’s resolution to condemn anti-Asian sentiment related to COVID-19, which passed the House last fall. And that’s why it’s important to pass critical legislation like Congressmember Beyer’s requires No Hate Act, and Congresswoman Meng’s COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, that will help us to better track and respond to hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans. [inaudible 00:46:04] calling for a national day to speak out against Asian hate on March 26th. It is time that we continue to push back against xenophobia, every time it rears its ugly head. Asian Americans must not be used as scapegoats in times of crisis. Lives are at stake, and it’s critical that Congress takes bold action to address this pandemic of discrimination and hate. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (46:40)
Thank you, Congresswoman Chu. I remember the smog in the San Gabriel Valley. Our next witness is Senator Tammy Duckworth, and after her we’ll hear Representative Young Kim. Senator Duckworth represents the State of Illinois in the United States Senate, first elected in 2016. She previously served in the United States House of Representatives, and she represented the 8th Congressional District of Illinois for two terms. She has an outstanding communications team, and an outstanding record in Congress. Senator Duckworth, you’re recognized for five minutes.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (47:13)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and it was a pleasure to serve alongside you previously in the House. It’s good to see you up on the dais today. Thank you for this hearing. In New York, as we’ve heard, an 89 year old was slapped, and in California, a 91 year old was pushed to the ground. In the middle of a park, a little girl was shoved off her bike, and in the middle of a city sidewalk, a little boy watched as his father was beaten up. Families have had rocks thrown at them, nurses have been spit on, heroes, frontline workers, hospital staff have been blamed for COVID-19, and they’ve been denied service, treated as other than, as less than, simply because they are members of the AAPI community.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (47:56)
And now, less than 48 hours ago, six members of the Asian American community were murdered in Atlanta, Georgia, another unspeakable tragedy after a year of unfathomable cruelty. There’s nothing, nothing we can say today that will piece back together the shattered lives of the victims’ loved ones. There’s nothing we can do that will give them the solace they deserve, nothing we can provide that would even begin to make sense of this senseless tragedy. But what we can say and should say clearly, unambiguously, is that blaming the AAPI community for a public health crisis is racist and wrong, and continuing to treat our fellow Americans as others, only further divides our country at a time when we should be pushing, pulling, tugging at our nation with all our might, until it lives up to its founding ideas of equality and justice for all.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (48:51)
Unfortunately, this type of prejudice is far from new. It’s a similar brand of discrimination to the one that marked some of our country’s darkest days and toughest fights, from segregation to immigration. As Congresswoman Matsui has mentioned, it’s in a similar vein to what was witnessed in World War II, as our nation incarcerated Japanese Americans because of their heritage, and trapped thousands of families like Congresswoman Matsui’s, even as their loved ones sacrificed everything on the war front to defend our nation overseas.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (49:23)
Fortunately, the United States government recognized that this type of bigotry was un-American. Yet, the risk of repeating past grave errors is real and chilling. That’s why I introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act, which would be a first step towards safeguarding freedom and establishing a clear statutory prohibition against un-American policies that seek to imprison, or otherwise detain American citizens on the basis of who they are, rather than what they have done. And as the daughter of an American Vietnam veteran and an immigrant with Chinese Thai heritage, I am deeply committed to supporting our community’s fight against discrimination. I applaud the efforts of this subcommittee to raise awareness of this crisis, and to discuss a plan to advance civil rights for Asian Americans and protect the well-being of all of our families.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (50:15)
The American story as we know it would not exist without the strength of the AAPI community. Quite literally, Asian Americans helped build this country. With their bare hands and bent backs, they laid the railroad tracks that connected us from coast to coast. They tilled the fields and started the businesses, and also picked up the rifles necessary to develop and defend this nation that we all love. And today, even as we face so much bigotry and violence, our community is helping to keep the country running. So I just want to take a minute to thank all the incredible heroic frontline workers who are getting our nation through this crisis, from the doctors and the nurses risking their own lives to try to save the lives of strangers, to the cashier at the market who’s helping our families stay fed, from janitors sweeping up hospital rooms at night, to the teachers patiently helping our kids learn their ABCs over Zoom, I hope you know that we see you and we see your sacrifices, and that we are forever in your debt.
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (51:13)
We’ll never be able to fully express our gratitude for all of the AAPIs on the front lines, but every hour of every day, I’m going to keep trying, because that’s the least that these folks, deserve. So I want to say thank you one more time for everything that they do, and going forward, I hope that all Americans will speak up against such hatred towards their neighbors, and I look forward to continuing to work with President Biden’s executive order that assists states and community organizations, make this kind of discrimination a thing of the past. Please know that we have so much work ahead of us, and I thank this committee for how holding this hearing has shed a light on this very, very serious issue that will divide our nation and make us weaker, not stronger. With that, I yield back, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (51:57)
Thank you, Senator, and it’s nice to see you and have you back in the House again. Now we’d like to recognize a new member of the House, Representative Young Kim. Representative Kim represents the night 39th Congressional District of California, which includes the northern parts of Orange County. Not sure if she’s got the Big A in Anaheim, the ballpark, or the Disney World, or the Knott’s Berry Farm or those places, but they’re all out there. First elected in 2020. You’re recognized for five minutes [inaudible 00:52:25].
Representative Young Kim: (52:26)
Thank you, Chairman, and Ranking Member, and the members of the committee for holding this hearing today on a very important topic that has been prevailing in our national conversation, but one that is very, very personal to me, as an Asian American. I represent California’s 39th Congressional District. This is one of the diverse districts in the country, and it’s also a home to a vibrant Asian American community. My district is truly a representation of America and what makes our country great. Asian Americans have, and continue to make countless contributions to communities across the country, and right here in the halls of Congress.
Representative Young Kim: (53:10)
Since the beginning of COVID-19, we have increasingly seen Asian Americans becoming targets of hate across the nation, with more than 3,000 hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Those crimes have been reported nationwide, with an increased number of attacks against seniors. This week, we saw senseless violence in Atlanta that took the lives of six Asian American woman. While the investigation is ongoing and we wait for more information, this comes during a time when violence and attacks against Asian Americans are on the rise. The hate, the bias, and the attacks that we’ve seen against the Asian American community are unacceptable, and they must be stopped.
Representative Young Kim: (53:58)
This is wrong, and it has no place in our political discourse, and it’s contrary to the values that America stands for. This should not have to be said, but I want to be very clear. No American of any race or ethnic group is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus does not discriminate, it affects everyone. We must come together as Americans, not just to fight COVID-19, but also to stand against the rise of hate and discrimination against the AAPI community and any other group of Americans.
Representative Young Kim: (54:35)
We also can not forget that discrimination we’ve seen against the AAPI community is not limited to the violence and attacks. I hope we can look at the nation’s elite universities and other institutions of learning. We have seen institutions discriminating against Asian Americans in their admissions process, in order to deny them the entry. Discrimination is wrong, and goes against our fundamental American values that we hold dear. In America, we value the individual, and we believe that people deserve to be judged on their merits and not penalized because of their heritage, race, or background. These are the values that my family and countless immigrants came here for.
Representative Young Kim: (55:23)
When our country seems more divided than ever, we should work together to unify our country and insure future generations of Americans, regardless of their background, have the same opportunity to access the promise of America. No matter our race or background, we are all Americans. Asian are Americans. As an Asian American and a member of Congress, I feel a duty to speak out. So I stand with the AAPI community today and always. So I want to thank you for allowing me to speak on this very, very important issue, and I yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (56:06)
Thank you, Congresswoman Kim. Our next witness is Representative Michelle Park Steel. Congresswoman Steel represents the 48th Congressional District in California, which includes other portions of Orange County. She was first elected in 2020. Congresswoman Steel, you’re recognized for five minutes.
Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel: (56:23)
Chairman Steve Cohen, and Ranking Member Chip Roy, thank you for holding this important conversation today. It has been heartbreaking to see the rise in anti-Asian American hate and harassment over the last year. As we will hear today from our witnesses and we’ve been hearing from our witnesses, hate against the Asian American community is not new. According to Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor, violence against Asian Americans has been under-scrutinized, under-prosecuted, and often condoned. This is a long set history of intolerance and hate directed at our community, and in the last year, almost 4,000 incidents of verbal harassment, physical assault, and discrimination have been reported. California is at the top of the list, with 44% of all incidents reported happening in my home state. New York is second on the list, making up 13% of all the incidents reported. 68% of these incidents and crimes were targeted towards Asian American women. This has to stop.
Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel: (57:47)
When I was chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, I introduced the resolution that called for tolerance and compassion towards all residents, and condemned discrimination against the AAPI community. I was proud this year to introduce a similar resolution in Congress, with other Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter. That’s because combating hate is not a partisan issue. We can all agree that violence against any community should never be tolerated. As a first-generation Korean-American who is now serving her community in the halls of Congress, this is my American dream. I want future generations of Americans to know they can achieve anything in this great country.
Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel: (58:43)
That’s why I would also like to use some of my time today to talk about the discrimination that the AAPI community is experiencing in our nation’s education system. It is one of the reasons why my colleague, Representative Kim, and I joined Ranking Member Jordan, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnson, to request the President of Yale University to testify at today’s hearing. Last year, the Department of Justice filed a case alleging that Yale University was discriminating against Asian Americans and white applicants, but the Biden administration dropped the suit last month. This is totally wrong, and sets a dangerous precedent.
Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel: (59:35)
In 1996, I supported and campaigned for California’s Proposition 209, which banned racial preferences in public hiring, education, and contracting. It was modeled after the Civil Rights Act. Before Prop 209 was passed, the four year graduation rate for underrepresented racial minorities in the University of California system was 31.3%. By 2014, that has increased to 51.1%. The six year graduation rate is even better, increasing from six to 6.5% in 1998, to 75.1% in 2013. Last year in California, Democrats introduced Proposition 16, to bring back racial preferences in hiring, contracting, and our education system. Californians overwhelmingly rejected it.
Congresswoman Michelle Park Steel: (01:00:42)
As a new member of Congress, and immigrant to this country, we should be encouraging all students and young people to succeed, especially in our education system. Discrimination is against the fundamental value of American culture, and that includes discrimination against the AAPI community in the halls of our schools and universities. This is wrong. This type of behavior is only hurting future generations. We should be working together to stop this discrimination and hate in its tracks, and to encourage the next generation to achieve their own American dream. I thank you, the committee, for the opportunity to testify and share this with you today. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (01:01:37)
Thank you, Congresswoman Steel. Thank you very much. Final witness on this first panel is the Honorable Representative Grace Meng. Congresswoman Meng represents the 6th Congressional District of the Empire State, New York. It includes Flushing, Bayside, fresh Meadows, and other portions of Northeastern Queens. She’s been in Congress since 2013. Congresswoman Meng, you’re now recognized for five minutes.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:01:59)
Thank you. Chairman Adler, Chairman Cohen, Ranking Member Thompson, and distinguished members of this committee for organizing today’s hearing. The topic is discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. Some of us seem to be going a little off topic, I’m not sure why. For over a year, Asian Americans have been fighting an additional virus of hate and bigotry. Anti-Asian rhetoric like, “China virus, Kung flu,” misinformation, racism, have left Asian Americans traumatized and fearful for their lives. Mr. Roy mentioned the WHO, and it’s the same World Health Organization that actually said not to use countries of origin when we’re referring to diseases.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:02:45)
Since last year, there have been over 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate, but we know that the majority of incidents go reported, and in fact, nearly 70% of reported anti-Asian hate incidents have happened to Asian American women. In fact, just this week, we saw the terrible news about the six Asian women who were shot and killed in the Atlanta area. Our community is bleeding, we are in pain, and for the last year, we’ve been screaming out for help. Asian American discrimination, however, is not new in this country. From the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, and from the 1975 police brutality in Manhattan’s Chinatown, to the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, discrimination against Asian Americans is a shameful part of our history.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:03:42)
Unfortunately, so much of this history is not taught in our schools. Excluding Asian Americans from our history books renders us invisible, and deems us the perpetual foreigner. In fact, history has excluded the history of Asian Americans, black Americans, Latino, and Native Americans, and that has led to the systemic inequities at many institutions…
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:04:03)
… and that has led to the systemic inequities at many institutions, including our academic institutions. In the 116th Congress, I introduce my resolution to condemn anti-Asian sentiment related to COVID.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:04:15)
I was grateful my resolution passed the House with bipartisan support, except for 164 of our Republican colleagues who voted against it, even though some have the audacity to tweet condolences after Atlanta’s tragedy, I’m glad to hear about my colleague Representative Steel’s resolution, and I hope that she has better luck getting her party to support the resolution.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:04:42)
During this last year, it became painfully apparent that we need a comprehensive effort from our local communities to the federal level. That’s why I support bills like the No Hate Act, and that’s why Senator Hirono and I introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would assign a point person at the Department of Justice to quickly review hate crimes and to make it easier for people to report these incidents.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:05:07)
My bill also builds on President Biden’s presidential memorandum by directing relevant federal agencies to work with community-based organizations, to find ways to talk about the virus in a way that is not racist. I urge my colleagues on this committee for swift consideration of these bills. We cannot turn a blind eye to people living in fear.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:05:32)
I want to go back to something that Mr. Roy said earlier. Your president and your party, and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.
Congresswoman Grace Meng: (01:05:53)
This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us. Thank you. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (01:06:08)
Congressman Meng, thank you very much. You’re correct about the genesis of this hearing. Now, we will go to our second panel.
[inaudible 01:06:32] The camera’s on him. [inaudible 01:06:34]
Mr. Cohen: (01:06:37)
the second member panel should turn their cameras on. There we go. I think we’re coming along there.
Then the first member panel-
Mr. Cohen: (01:06:51)
First member panel can turn their cameras off. Great light show. I guess we’re ready. We’re going to be ready.
Mr. Cohen: (01:07:03)
We’re now on our second panel, and our first witness is Mr. John Yang. Mr. Yang is president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the AAJC, which seeks to advance the civil and human rights of Asian-Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all through policy, advocacy, education and litigation.
Mr. Cohen: (01:07:23)
He received a JD from George Washington University School of Law and his BA from Washington University in St. Louis. Mr. Yang, you were recognized for five minutes.
John Yang: (01:07:33)
Thank you very much, and thank you very much, Chairman Cohen. Thank you to the Ranking Member Johnson and the other members of the committee, really appreciate the opportunity to testify before all of you today. I really appreciate the powerful words from Representative Meng and the other CAPAC members as to why we are here today.
John Yang: (01:07:52)
When I agreed to testify at this hearing, no one could have imagined that this would come two days after the horrific shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. I also want to take a moment to recognize and honor the victims and their families and the suffering that they are going through at this moment, and to remember that we must center ourselves in the Atlanta community and all the local communities that have been affected during this past year with respect to the anti-Asian violence.
John Yang: (01:08:18)
Look, for a year now, Asian-Americans have been fighting two viruses, the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all of us, as well as this virus of racism. Asian-Americans, like all Americans, have suffered the economic and health consequences of COVID-19, but at the same time, Asian-Americans have been at the front lines as essential workers in grocery stores, in delivery trucks, in custodial services, as well as in health professions.
John Yang: (01:08:43)
Unfortunately, Asian Americans have also been fighting this second virus, this virus of racism. We have long struggled for visibility and equity, and now our communities are faced with this additional physical and mental harm that is arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Ms. Kulkarni will testify, web-based self-reporting tools have recorded a tremendous increase in the number of anti-Asian hate that we have seen in this past year. A Pew report from last year confirm what that data shows, that a majority of Asian Americans say it is more common for people to blame Asians for COVID-19 and have expressed insensitive and completely inappropriate views about Asian Americans then before COVID-19.
John Yang: (01:09:26)
An Ipsos survey shows the same thing, where over 30% of the American population say that they have witnessed harassment or blame of the Asian community for COVID-19, and 60% of the Asian-American population showed that this was similar behavior that they were seeing. These fears are real.
John Yang: (01:09:46)
The other thing is, the impact on the Asian-American communities is clear with respect to their businesses. As noted in a report by McKinsey and Company, misguided fears of the virus effectively shuttered businesses in many Asian-American cultural districts a full month before lockdowns began nationwide.
John Yang: (01:10:04)
Our organization and others started talking about this issue in late January when we saw this happening, and I [inaudible 01:10:10] districts during that time, when we saw this happening, and to say that it was still safe to go there before the lockdowns. In New York, as demonstrated by a study by our community partner Asian-American Federation, there has been record job losses for the Asian-American community.
John Yang: (01:10:29)
In New York, there was at 6000% increase in unemployment benefit applications from February through June of 2020. Asian-Americans suffered the largest increase in unemployment, going from 3% in February 2020 to over 25%.
John Yang: (01:10:45)
Now look, Asian-American racism is rooted in two very dangerous stereotypes, that have the perpetual foreigner and that of the model minority. The perpetual foreigner suggest that we can be here and we could be born here and we can live here as long as we want, but we are still seen as foreigners. We are still seen as the other, not to be trusted and to be feared.
John Yang: (01:11:06)
On the flip side of that stereotype is the so-called model minority, to suggest that Asian Americans are held up as a good people of color when it is convenient, to plant seeds of division within allied communities of color. Here, I will call out people that try to use affirmative action as a wedge to drive between Asian Americans and other communities of color.
John Yang: (01:11:27)
That model minority myth hides the complexities of our community and the economic disparities that exist among Asian Americans. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, we must remember that anti-Asian racism is likely to continue. We do have legitimate concerns and geopolitical differences with the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, but that is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.
John Yang: (01:11:52)
But if we are not careful, those differences will have consequences on our Asian-American community, and we can expect the backlash against our community. We’ve seen that happen with the Japanese-American community in World War II. We’ve seen that happen with the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian-American community after 9/11. We saw that happen with the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982.
John Yang: (01:12:13)
We have to do better than that. We’d have to have the proper nuance to call out xenophobia, racism whenever it occurs against our community. We must call out this out to stop the cycle of violence. It is only then that we will stop seeing Asian-Americans as this perpetual foreigner to be feared and come up to a better place in addressing this racism. Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.
Mr. Cohen: (01:12:40)
Thank you, Mr. Yang. Our next witness is Manjusha Kulkarni. She’s executive director of the Asian-Pacific Policy and Planning Council, a coalition of over 40 community-based organizations that serve and represent the 1.5 Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County.
Mr. Cohen: (01:12:58)
She is also a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, an online self reporting and tracking tool launched on March 19, 2020, in response to a sharp rise in anti-Asian xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the references to the COVID-19 pandemic’s provenance.
Mr. Cohen: (01:13:15)
She received her JD from Boston University school of Law and her BA from Duke University. Ms. Kulkarni, You are now recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Cohen: (01:13:25)
Ms. Kulkarni, did you hear me? You’re recognized for five minutes, you may need to unmute.
[inaudible 01:13:44] they may have lost sound again.
Mr. Cohen: (01:13:47)
Did we lose sound again? Can anybody hear me? Amy, this isn’t my fault.
Mr. Cohen: (01:14:13)
We will have a five minute recess, and we’ll be back.
Speaker 7: (01:14:46)
Thanks for waiting. We’ve let the host know that you’re here.
Speaker 7: (01:14:48)
Mr. Cohen: (01:14:48)
John Yang: (01:14:48)
This is John Yang, I can hear you.
Mr. Cohen: (01:16:11)
Great. We’re back. We’re back. Recess is over. No more milk and cookies. Ms. Kulkarni, you’re recognized for five minutes.
Mr. Cohen: (01:16:24)
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:16:30)
Thank you, Chairman, Ranking Member and distinguished members of the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify before you today.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:16:38)
“Go back to Wuhan and take the virus with you. You are the reason for the Coronavirus. Damn, another Asian riding with me, hope you don’t have COVID.” These are but a few examples of what Asian-Americans have experienced over the course of the last year, alongside with refusal of service, workplace discrimination, and sadly, now homicide.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:17:05)
For that reason on March 19th, 2020, my organization, Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, in conjunction with Chinese for Affirmative Action and San Francisco State University’s Asian-American Studies Department launched Stop AAPI Hate. In the past 11 months, we have received almost 3,800 self-reported incidents of bias and discrimination from all 50 States and the District of Columbia, making Stop AAPI Hate the nation’s leading aggregator of Asian-American hate.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:17:37)
From our analysis, the following trends have emerged. 68% of incidents involve verbal harassment, 20% involve avoidance or shunning, 11% physical assault and 9% civil rights violations, including refusal of service, vandalism, workplace discrimination and discrimination in housing. The vast majority do not involve a hate crime.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:18:03)
Businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and big box retail are the primary site of discrimination. This is followed by public streets and public parks. The fact that so many incidents take place at businesses is especially concerning, given that retail venues sell goods necessary for daily living, essential during a pandemic.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:18:25)
Given that 35% of incidents occur in public spaces is also worrisome. These figures give credence to the anxiety felt by AAPIs that purchasing food, refilling prescriptions, or simply going on a walk might leave them vulnerable to being attacked. Our data indicates that especially vulnerable populations, including women, youth, and seniors, have reported anti-Asian hate incidents at significant rates.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:18:55)
As has been noted, 68% of incident reports come from women. This is perhaps to be expected, given the lessons learned from the Me Too movement and a survey of Stop Street Harassment, which found that 81% of women experienced street harassment in their daily lives.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:19:13)
While Chinese Americans have often been the explicit target of perpetrators, they make up only 42% of individuals who reported to our site, 15% identify as Korean Americans, 9% as Vietnamese and 8% as Filipino American. We have also received reports from South Asian Americans, as well as Pacific Islanders and others, evidencing the fact that Asian Americans across ethnicities are experiencing hate and racism today with our Pacific Islander sisters and brothers.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:19:47)
Sadly, the 3,800 reported to Stop AAPI Hate represent only a fraction of what has happened in this country. The widespread nature of anti-Asian hate is confirmed by a study by the Pew Research Center, released last July, that found that three in 10 Asian Americans experienced racist jokes and slurs. Similarly, a poll by the Center for Public Integrity found that 60% of Asian Americans have witnessed someone blaming our community for COVID-19.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:20:23)
Before I close, I want to acknowledge the tremendous mobilization done by Asian-American groups in Georgia in response to the violence there, and read a portion of their statement, “During this time of broader crisis and trauma in our Asian-American communities, we must be guided by a compass of community care that prioritizes assessing and addressing our communities’ immediate needs, including in-language support for mental health, legal employment and immigration services. We must stand firm in decrying misogyny, systemic violence, and white supremacy.”
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:21:03)
In addition to sharing our data and the statement from Georgia advocates, I want to share the fact that we have been developing resources for community members who experienced incidents of hate and providing direct assistance through local networks. We are also closely working with local, state and federal policy makers to address the hate incidents that have occurred and seek to prevent additional incidents from taking place in the future.
Manjusha Kulkarni: (01:21:29)
Thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to taking any questions.
Mr. Cohen: (01:21:34)
Thank you very much, and you were perfect on the five minutes. Our next witness is Erika Lee. She’s a Regents Professor of History and Asian-American Studies and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota.
Mr. Cohen: (01:21:47)
She’s the author of four award-winning books, including America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States, which won the 2020 American Book Award and the 2020 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Professor Lee received her MA and PhD in history from the University of California at Berkeley and her BA from Tufts University. Professor Lee, you are now recognized for five minutes.
Erika Lee: (01:22:11)
Thank you so much, Chairman Cohen and members of the committee. I’m so honored to join you. I also want to thank all of the congressional staffers who have helped to make this hearing possible.
Erika Lee: (01:22:22)
As we’ve just heard from my fellow witnesses, anti-Asian racism and violence has risen alarmingly. As shocking as these incidents are, it is so vital to understand that they are not random acts perpetrated by deranged individuals. They are an expression of our country’s long history of systemic racism, targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Erika Lee: (01:22:48)
We’ve heard in the past 24 hours, many describe anti-Asian discrimination and racial violence as un-American. Unfortunately, it is very American. This history, this American history, is over 150 years old.
Erika Lee: (01:23:06)
Let me share just a few examples. In 1871, 17 Chinese were lynched by a mob of 500 in Los Angeles. This was the largest mass lynching in US history. In 1886, a mob of 1500 forced out all of Seattle’s Chinese residents. In the early 20th century, South Asians were expelled from cities and Filipino Americans and Japanese Americans were attacked.
Erika Lee: (01:23:31)
Most recently in 1982, Vincent Chin, a Chinese American was beaten to death in Detroit, because his attackers thought he was Japanese and blamed him for the economic decline in the auto industry. Throughout the 1980s, attacks on Korean shop keepers and Southeast Asian refugees were widespread. After 9/11, hate crimes targeting Muslim, Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans increased by 1600%.
Erika Lee: (01:23:59)
As these incidents reveal Asian-Americans have been terrorized. We’ve been treated as enemies. We’ve been discriminated against. Today, we are still viewed as foreigners rather than US citizens. The government of this country has not just ignored this problem, it has been part of the problem.
Erika Lee: (01:24:21)
Throughout much of our history Congress and other elected officials have promoted and legalized anti-Asian racism through its laws and its actions. In 1875, Congress passed the so-called Page Act, which effectively barred the entry of Chinese women because lawmakers believed that all Chinese women were prostitutes. In 1882, congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The first federal law singling out an entire group for immigration exclusion based on race.
Erika Lee: (01:24:51)
By the 1930s, all other Asian groups, Japanese, Korean, South Asians, Filipinos, were also barred from the US and prevented from becoming naturalized citizens. Asian immigration did not fully open up again until 1965. In 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed for the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans as prisoners without trial. I want to thank Representative Matsui so much for sharing her own family’s history, so that we never forget the real consequences of racism.
Erika Lee: (01:25:26)
For many years after 9/11, not just right after the terrorist attacks, but for many years after, South Asian Americans faced systemic racism in the form of profiling by government agencies. During this past year, some of our highest elected officials deliberately and consistently used racist language, tying COVID-19 to Asians. This included the phrases that we’ve been talking about this morning, “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” and also telling Americans to, “Blame China for the pandemic.”
Erika Lee: (01:26:01)
These words matter, especially when they repeatedly came from the White House during the previous administration. Researchers have found that the anti-Asian rhetoric promoted by leaders directly correlated with a rise in racist incidents against Asian-Americans. This history of racism is not taught in our schools.
Erika Lee: (01:26:22)
Instead, many Americans believe that deceptive model minority stereotype, portraying Asian-Americans only as success stories, proving that AAPIs do indeed experience structural racism and institutionalized discrimination remains a persistent challenge.
Erika Lee: (01:26:41)
The last time, and seemingly the only other time in our country’s history that Congress has held hearings on anti-Asian racism was 34 years ago, before this committee. Over 20 million in number, Asian Americans are now the fastest growing racial group in the United States. We are your constituents, but we are in crisis from the multiple and disproportionate effects of the pandemic on our diverse AAPI communities.
Erika Lee: (01:27:10)
US citizens are being told to go back to their own countries. Nurses and doctors on the front lines are subjected to racist tirades. As we’ve seen in Atlanta, Asian-owned businesses and workers are being attacked, and all of this violence, especially targets women. Like all Americans, AAPIs are struggling with the public health crisis, and the shuttered economy.
Erika Lee: (01:27:32)
But we also have to worry about being attacked or harassed in our own neighborhoods, makes our pandemic experience even more difficult. Congress needs to act definitively and immediately to address the enduring problem of anti-Asian racism in the US. The acts facing AAPIs today are a systemic, national tragedy. They will not simply go away after the pandemic.
Erika Lee: (01:27:59)
We call upon our leaders to condemn racism in all of its forms, invest in AAPI communities and support individuals who have experienced race-based violence. We cannot afford to wait another 34 years for Congress to act. Thank you very much.
Mr. Cohen: (01:28:18)
Thank you, Professor Lee. Our next witness is Charles Lehman. Mr. Lehman is a fellow with the Manhattan Institute, working primarily on the policing and public safety initiative. He is also contributing editor of City Journal. Mr. Lehman received his BA from Yale University. Mr. Lehman, you’re recognized for five minutes.
Charles Lehman: (01:28:37)
Thank you to the committee for the invitation to speak today about the important issue of rising crime against Asian Americans. Many of our fellow citizens now fear for their safety in their own neighborhoods. I am glad this matter has not escaped Congress’s attention, particularly in light of Tuesday’s awful shooting outside of Atlanta. I am speaking today as a researcher focused on crime, and it is in that capacity that I want to offer two points.
Charles Lehman: (01:29:02)
The first is that, while some of these offenses were doubtless motivated by bias, you should be cautious when interpreting the broader trends solely as a spike in hate crimes. The second, relatedly, is that these crimes should be understood as part of a larger surgeon violence. As you aware, crime is rising in several Asian-American communities, particularly in the greater Bay Area and New York City.
Charles Lehman: (01:29:23)
There’ve been reports of assaults, daylight robberies and general mayhem targeting Asian citizens, especially the elderly. Many have identified these offenses as hate crimes, linking them to bigoted sentiments inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. The FBI, which tracks such offenses, defines a hate crime as one motivated by an offender’s “bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”
Charles Lehman: (01:29:49)
Last spring saw spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, as major cities experienced the 150% increase over 2019. This was doubtless driven by rhetoric blaming Asians for the coronavirus crisis. In the latest wave, some offenses are plainly bias motivated, like the attack in Seattle, which assailant Samuel Green told Katherine [Yeager 01:30:08] quote, “Asians need to be put in your place,” as he shoved her to the ground.
Charles Lehman: (01:30:13)
But not all of the recent cases are so clear cut. The reason for Tuesday’s horrific shootings in Atlanta remains unclear, but police suspect it was not racially motivated. Law enforcement in both New York and Northern California are reportedly not investigating many of the high profile offenses as hate crimes.
Charles Lehman: (01:30:29)
Other factors are likely at play. Consider Yahya Muslim, arrested for shoving three Asian adults, including a 91-year-old, in Oakland’s Chinatown. Muslim, who was homeless, has a history of mental illness, which is defense counsel blames for the attack. Counsel for Antoine Watson, who allegedly shoved and killed 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco, has also appealed to the teenagers mental health, rejecting charges of bias.
Charles Lehman: (01:30:52)
Other cases start to look different given context. Filipino New Yorker Noel Quintana was a victim of a subway knife attack that some have called racially motivated, but several other non-Asian victims have also recently been slashed on the MTA, part of rising transit crime, which swept up Quintana.
Charles Lehman: (01:31:09)
My purpose in making these points is not to deny the role biases played in some offenses or to downplay the seriousness of anti-Asian bigotry. I want to condemn in no uncertain terms hate crimes of all sorts. They are a particularly vicious species of offense, motivated by special animus and deserving of special denunciation. No American should have to face discrimination of any kind.
Charles Lehman: (01:31:32)
Rather, I wish to emphasize to the committee that if they analyze these offenses solely as hate crimes, they will miss critical context, and thereby, risk making under informed decisions. In particular, we cannot discuss these offenses without highlighting the past year’s violent crime rate.
Charles Lehman: (01:31:47)
Criminologist Jeff [Asher 01:31:49] has estimated that 2020 saw the largest one-year spike in homicides on record, as murder increased by more than 30% in nearly 40 major cities. New data indicate the trend has persisted into early 2021. That pattern appears in cities where Asian residents are being attacked.
Charles Lehman: (01:32:04)
In San Francisco, homicide was up 17%. In New York, homicides rose 40%, while shootings nearly doubled. In Oakland, 2020 saw the highest homicide rate in eight years, and the city’s on track for worse 2021. With 157 dead, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called 2020 the city’s deadliest year in decades.
Charles Lehman: (01:32:25)
That violence is a product of free roaming criminals. Paul Chan, head of Oakland’s Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, describes how “businesses are so fearful, they prefer to close early. We also have many juveniles driving around Chinatown and carrying guns, so they’re also hurting people before they’re being robbed.”
Charles Lehman: (01:32:41)
This is description, not eight crimes, but of out and out lawlessness. This behavior seems obviously tied to recent political hostility to the police. Many cities have yielded to activist demands that they slash police budgets and cut public safety services. Bigotry may have played a role in these offenses, but changing the hearts and minds of bigots is far harder from a policy maker’s perspective than preventing bigotry-driven crimes.
Charles Lehman: (01:33:06)
If anything is to blame for the terror now plaguing Asian Americans, it’s public officials’ dereliction of their duty to preserve public safety. I urge the members of the committee to advocate restoration of public safety by pushing back on anti-police rhetoric, by supporting more federal funding for police. This is the best way to ensure that Asian Americans and all Americans can, again, walk the streets free from the fear of violent crime.
Charles Lehman: (01:33:31)
Thank you, and I look forward to taking your questions.
Mr. Cohen: (01:33:36)
Thank you, Mr. Lehman. Our next witness is with us here person. That’s a nice exception. Nice of you to be here, Mr. Wencong Fa. Mr. Fa is and attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, litigating cases focused on free speech and equality before the law.
Mr. Cohen: (01:33:54)
He received his JD from the University of Michigan, not in the NCAA tournament. I think. Maybe they are, I don’t know, and a masters… They are in the tournament, aren’t they? And a master’s degree in political philosophy from the London School of Economics, and a BA from the University of Texas-Dallas. Mr. Fa, you’re recognized for five minutes, sir.
Wencong Fa: (01:34:14)
Chairman, Ranking Member, thank you for inviting me to testify today. Before I begin, I want to say that I’m saddened by the violence committed in Georgia on Tuesday. I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.
Wencong Fa: (01:34:32)
I never could have imagined being here today when I boarded a flight from Beijing to San Francisco 25 years ago. I knew two words of English when I got to America, “banana,” which I likely learned on the plane, and goodbye,” which my grandmother taught me in Beijing as she dropped me off at the bus stop every Sunday.
Wencong Fa: (01:34:52)
Since then, I became the first person in my family to receive a law degree, and I won the first case I litigated before the Supreme Court in June 2018. A few hours after I got the decision in the Supreme Court case, I went to take a citizenship test in front of an immigration officer, and I laughed when he asked me how many justices there were on the Supreme Court. I have since become a proud citizen of the United States.
Wencong Fa: (01:35:22)
I am here today to say that racial discrimination is wrong, but when it comes to Asian-Americans in education, far too many in our government condone discrimination. this is something I’ve experienced firsthand as an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, where my colleagues and I represent Asian-American families who have felt the sting of government sanctioned discrimination.
Wencong Fa: (01:35:46)
These families seek to vindicate the principle of equality before the law, which requires government to treat people as individuals and forbids government from treating us differently on the basis of government-sanctioned stereotypes. Last week, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a case-
Wencong Fa: (01:36:03)
Types. Last week, Pacific Legal Foundation filed the case, challenging Fairfax County’s discriminatory changes to its admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School, or TJ as it is more commonly known. We represent a coalition of parents, including Dr. [Chen 01:36:18] a Chinese immigrant who is now a chemistry professor. His oldest daughter attends TJ, but her younger sister might not get that chance. That’s because the county replaced an objective test with a so-called holistic process designed to racially balance the student body at the expense of Asian-American students.
Wencong Fa: (01:36:42)
The changes at TJ were made against the backdrop of unfounded racial stereotypes. One school board member referred to the culture at TJ as toxic. A Virginia state delegate accused Asian-Americans of being dishonest in getting their children admitted and made the baseless claim that the parents had no intention of staying in America.
Wencong Fa: (01:37:06)
We’re pursuing a similar case in Montgomery County, where efforts to racially balance the magnet middle schools have drastically reduced the number of Asian-American students.
Wencong Fa: (01:37:18)
In yet another case, I represent Asian-American families in New York. My clients include Asian-American immigrants who want the opportunity for their children to earn their way into public schools like [Stuyvesant 01:37:31], Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech. But Mayor de Blasio stated that the majority Asian compositions of those schools was a “monumental injustice” and changed the admissions policy to make it harder for low income Asian-American students to get into those schools.
Wencong Fa: (01:37:52)
Pacific Legal Foundation has also filed a friend of the court brief in Students for Fair Admissions versus Harvard, a case using Harvard’s explicit use of race in a way that decreases Asian-American enrollment. This too has led to pernicious stereotypes, including college guidebooks telling Asian-American students to refrain from saying that they aspire to pursue a career in medicine or major in math or science. Apparently, those interests are too Asian.
Wencong Fa: (01:38:20)
This is America. Government should not condone discrimination, and it must not actively engage in it. The subcommittee should continue to explore ways in which official government policy has discriminated against Asian-Americans and continue to work with Pacific Legal Foundation and others to end this racial discrimination. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (01:38:44)
Thank you for your testimony. Thank you for appearing in person. And thank you for keeping your mask up. That’s appreciated by all the committee. Our next witness is Mr. Daniel Dae Kim. Mr. Kim is an actor and producer. He’s best known for his role as Jin-Soo Kwon on the TV series, Lost, which he shared a 2006 screen actors Guild award for best ensemble. He also portrayed Chin Ho Kelly on the series Hawaii Five-O for seven seasons. Last month, together with actor Daniel Wu, he offered a $25,000 reward for information regarding a January 31 assault of a 91-year-old man in Oakland’s Chinatown, following two similar incidents, targeting elderly Asian residents. Mr. Kim received a master of fine arts degree from New York University and his undergraduate degree from Haverford College.
Mr. Cohen: (01:39:32)
Mr. Kim, you’re recognized for five minutes.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:39:38)
Thank you, Chairman Cohen and ranking member Roy and the members of the judiciary committee. I’m both honored and dismayed to be back in front of you again. Some of you may remember that I was with you just this past September, discussing the importance of diversity in American media. You may recall that the reason I was moved to speak then was because the House had just recently passed H.R. 908, condemning all forms of anti Asian sentiment.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:40:03)
But I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate against people of Asian descent, 164 members of Congress, all Republican, voted against it. And now here I am again, because as every witness in this hearing has pointed out, the situation has gotten worse, much worse. [foreign language 01:40:25] murdered. [foreign language 01:40:29] murdered. [foreign language 01:40:30] face slashed with a blade from ear to ear. An 89-year-old woman set on fire. [foreign language 01:40:38] a professional jazz pianist, beaten so badly he can no longer play piano. And now seven Asian people shot dead in Georgia two days ago, six of whom were women. These are only a few of the 3,800 reported incidents since last March.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:40:54)
I was speaking to a pollster during the recent elections, and I asked him why, when I see polling results broken down by race, do I so rarely see Asian-Americans as a separate category. He heard my question. He looked me dead in the eye. And he said, “Because Asian-Americans are considered statistically insignificant.” Statistically insignificant. Now all of you listening to me here, by virtue of your own elections, are more familiar with the intricacies of polling than I am. So undoubtedly, you already know what this means.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:41:24)
Statistically insignificant literally means we don’t matter. We, as Asian-Americans, have come to this country because we believe in the American dream. Many of us have succeeded, and some of us are even the frontline healthcare workers upon whom we’ve all come to depend during this terrible pandemic. But many of us are struggling too. In fact, the wealth disparity between the richest Asian-Americans and the poorest is the largest of any ethnic group in America. In New York, Asian-Americans have a higher poverty rate than any other minority group, where fully one in four are living below the poverty line. And poverty rates among Asian-American seniors are much higher than the national average. That’s something to consider as we watch the most vulnerable in our community get taunted, pushed, slashed, and murdered.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:42:12)
Despite this wide disparity of experiences, we continue to be tagged the model minority. We simply cannot continue to live with the myth that the most successful of us represent the totality of us.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:42:24)
So we know the hurdles we face. The question for us here is what can we do about them? One of the places that starts is with education. Let’s teach them everything that Professor [Lee 01:42:35] so eloquently highlighted for us, including celebrating the fact that the most decorated combat unit in US military history was the 442nd combat team, a unit in World War II made up entirely of Asian-Americans.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:42:48)
Now these are not moments in Asian-American history. This is American history. When we are erased from our history books, we are made invisible. And the result, to quote Congresswoman Meng, is that we are perpetually made to feel like foreigners in our own country. Include our stories because they matter.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:43:07)
We must also empower our local community organizers by directing funds to areas that have been historically impoverished, not just for the benefit of the AAPI community, but for the benefit of all communities living there, most of whom are non-white. It’s no wonder that there’s historically been tension among racial groups, when the thing they have most in common is poverty and lack of access to services.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:43:29)
And there happen to be two pieces of legislation before this committee, as we speak, that deal with these specific issues. One is the NO HATE bill. It provides necessary grants and money to community organizations, counseling for those convicted of hate crimes, and improved data collection for hate crime reporting, among other important services. The committee also has before right now the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act introduced by Congresswoman Meng and Senator Hirono. It’s crucial that we have reliable reporting for these hate crimes and an infrastructure that makes it easy for people for whom English is not their primary language.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:44:02)
Chairman Adler, you have been an ally to the AAPI community in the past. I respectfully urge you not to let these bills languish in committee, but see them through so that they can be passed by the full House and then onto the Senate.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:44:15)
Now I’m not naive enough to think that I’m going to convince all of you to stand up for us. Trust me, I’ve seen your voting records. But I am speaking to those to whom humanity still matters.
Daniel Dae Kim: (01:44:27)
In closing, let me just say that there are several moments in a country’s history that chart its course indelibly for the future. For Asian-Americans, that moment is now. What happens right now and over the course of the coming months, will send a message for generations to come as to whether we matter. Whether the country we call home chooses to erase us or include us. Dismiss us or respect us. Invisibilize or see us. Because you may consider us statistically insignificant now, but one more fact that has no alternative is that we are the fastest growing racial demographic in the country. We are 23 million strong. We are united, and we are waking up. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (01:45:15)
Thank you, sir. Our next witness is Shirin Sinnar. She’s professor of law and John A. Wilson faculty scholar at Stanford Law School. Her scholarship focuses on, among other things, the role of institutions in protecting individual rights and democratic values the national security context. Her recent work assesses the legal regime for domestic and international terrorism under US law. Professor Sinnar holds a JD from Stanford, a master of philosophies, international relations from Cambridge University, and an MA and a BA as well from Harvard. She was a law clerk for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the US Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit. Professor Sinnar, you are now recognized for five minutes.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:46:04)
Thank you for convening this important hearing and inviting me to participate. I want to begin by acknowledging the horrific mass shootings in Atlanta. Whatever the motive, those murders have traumatized Asian-American communities already reeling from a year of persistent hate violence.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:46:24)
I’d like to make two points today. First, while the causes of hate crimes are complex, academic research shows that hostile rhetoric from political leaders towards immigrants or racial minorities can embolden people to commit violence against them. Research also shows that political events that change perceptions of social norms, like the acceptability of racist or xenophobic views, have triggered hate violence.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:46:55)
And specifically with respect to former President Trump, prior studies have shown that hate crimes spiked immediately after his election, and that his negative tweets towards Muslims strongly correlated with anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:47:12)
That brings us to the past year, when former President Trump and other political leaders relentlessly characterized the coronavirus in racist terms, as recently as this week. Stop AAPI Hate’s research shows that Donald Trump’s anti- Asian tweets were shared on social media over a million times. A substantial number of anti-Asian hate incidents used language similar to Trump’s.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:47:42)
Beyond rhetoric, the racial profiling of Chinese and Chinese-American researchers, scientists, and students as security risks exposes Asian-American communities to a higher risk of societal discrimination and violence. This is familiar from the experience of South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Arab-American communities treated as suspects over the nearly two decade long War on Terror.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:48:12)
While hostile rhetoric or discriminatory policy is certainly not the sole cause of recent anti-Asian violence, it has made Asian Americans vulnerable, both to racially motivated and to opportunistic attacks. The second point I’d like to make is that while the response to hate crimes is often billed to call for increased sentences, many Asian-American community organizations are now advocating a broader set of strategies who address hate crimes. Horrific acts like the Atlanta shootings require a serious law enforcement response. But for several reasons, community groups are also looking for solutions beyond criminal law, especially with respect to the more common forms of hate crimes that occur.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:49:08)
For one thing, many incidents of hate speech targeting Asian-Americans do not qualify as criminal, but they still create significant harm. In addition, many victims do not report incidents to police because of mistrust of law enforcement. And concern around over policing and mass incarceration has led many communities of color to consider other avenues to help victims heal, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent violence.
Shirin Sinnar: (01:49:41)
Numerous Asian-American organizations have emphasized the importance of cross racial solidarity in response to hate crimes, rather than pitting struggling communities against one another. Many have advocated deep investments in communities to strengthen support systems, both to prevent violence and to support violence when hate crimes occur. That support can take many forms, whether it is through funding, culturally competent mental healthcare services, reforming victim compensation programs to better support hate crimes victims, hosting conflict deescalation training, or establishing grant programs to protect institutions at high risk of hate crimes. There’s also growing interest in exploring forms of restorative justice to address hate crimes, especially with respect to young offenders and relatively less serious offenses. Restorative justice refers to processes that bring together people affected by an offense, to address the harm and agree upon mechanisms to repair it. Some evidence suggests that restorative justice programs reduce recidivism and alleviate the emotional harm of survivors better than traditional criminal processes. They are not an option in every case, and much more research is necessary, but there is growing interest within communities in creative alternatives to hold people accountable, help victims recover their sense of safety, and prevent further violence. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts.
Mr. Cohen: (01:51:29)
Thank you for sharing that. Our last witness is Hiroshi Motomura. He is Susan Westerberg Prager distinguished professor of law faculty co-director, Center for Immigration of Law and Policy at UCLA. His teachings and scholarship focus on immigration and citizenship. His book Americans in Waiting: the Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States won the professional and scholarly publishing award of the Association of American Publishers as the year’s best book in law and legal studies. Professor Motomura received his JD from Cal Berkeley and his BA from Yale.
Mr. Cohen: (01:52:13)
Professor, you’re now recognized for five minutes.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:52:18)
Mr. Chairman, ranking member, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My remarks take a step back from the specifics of the incidents that other witnesses have addressed. There’s a natural tendency to explain away these crimes as an isolated acts of a few individuals. And related as natural tendency to avoid a deep look at why these crimes were committed, why more crimes now, why against victims of Asian ancestry. But these crimes follow a long historical pattern, as you’ve heard today, and I’d like to explain a key reason for this history.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:52:49)
Individuals commit crimes, but they do so in a society that reflects the laws under which we live. To see hate crimes as isolated is to close their eyes to the role of law in shaping attitudes, especially about who’s worthy and who is not.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:53:03)
Our focus is on the immigration laws of the United States, and especially in how these laws have laid the foundation of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the past, in the present, but I hope not in the future.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:53:15)
I’ll start by observing that throughout our nation’s history, immigration laws and statutes, regulations, and executive branch orders have discriminated and excluded on the basis of race, nationality, religion, and ethnicity. There are many examples. Chinese exclusion, as you’ve heard, dates back to the 1870s and 1880s, but it was the law of the land until 1943. My own family was one of the very small number of Japanese allowed to come to America before 1965, when immigration from Asia was severely limited. And similarly, the large undocumented population from Mexico reflects an immigration system that historically has treated Mexican immigrants as disposable labor and today offers too few legal opportunities to work and live with family in this country. Most recently, many people have been barred from the United States because they come from certain majority Muslim or African countries. Immigration laws, at their simplest, separate “them” outside the border from “us” inside the border. And this may be why public figures have felt free to disparage and insult people from certain other countries, even when some of those same public figures might never say the same thing about US citizens tracing family roots to those very same places.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:54:28)
But immigration laws don’t just affect people outside the United States. Immigration laws can make it hard or even impossible for some US citizens but not others to live in this country, in their United States with their spouses and children and other close relatives. In other words, to make a family here, to make a life here, in this United States as a family.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:54:49)
In this way, immigration laws tell some us citizens they’re still foreigners if they cannot fully partake in American life. If they trace their family origin to disfavored parts of the world, or if they follow a disfavored faith, then the message is that their citizenship isn’t as worthy of respect as the citizenship of other Americans. Their citizenship is devalued. In these ways, immigration laws enable discrimination that’s based on race, and often against US citizens.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:55:17)
Chinese exclusion, for example, was rooted in the idea that people of Chinese descent could not become fully equal citizens of this country because they’re not white. When 120, 000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of them were US citizens, were incarcerated in relocation camps during World War II, this too was only possible because they were seen as foreign because of their race.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:55:43)
So especially when this permission to discriminate is embraced, endorsed, and amplified by global public figures, what happens next should come as no surprise. The message is that some US citizens don’t belong, that they’re really foreigners, and that their lives and property aren’t worth as much. That message leads to hate crimes against people cast by our American immigration laws as fundamentally less American.
Hiroshi Motomura: (01:56:09)
No hate crime is an isolated act. We need to take national responsibility for the role of law and what we’re seeing today. By discriminating in ways that suggest some US citizens don’t belong here, our immigration laws have laid the foundation for hate crimes. And as long as our laws continue to lay this foundation, our entire country will suffer because the promise of a shared citizenship that can unite us all will remain unfulfilled. Thank you.
Mr. Cohen: (01:56:37)
And thank you, sir. We appreciate your attendance and your participation in our hearing. We will now have a round of questioning, and we will be under the five minute rule ourselves. And I’ll begin by recognizing myself for a question.
Mr. Cohen: (01:56:53)
And I’d like to ask Ms. Lee, is there empirical or historical evidence supporting the claim that leaders promoting stereotypes or using rhetoric aimed at a particular ethnic racial group leads to increase levels of discrimination or violence against a group? Are there historical examples of this?
Erika Lee: (01:57:16)
Thank you, chairman, for that wonderful question. And the answer is clearly yes. There is unfortunately a huge amount of historical evidence. Of the record is very clear. We’ve got mayors of major cities, we have lawmakers in Congress explaining Asian people in the crudest, most racist terms.
Erika Lee: (01:57:41)
In 1876, in San Francisco, Mayor Bryant, mayor of the time of that city, gathered a mob of thousands of people in downtown San Francisco and talked about the Chinese immigration question as one that needed to be solved, or that if Chinese immigration would continue, it would lead to the downfall of American civilization and of the white race.
Erika Lee: (01:58:10)
In 1882, when Congress is introducing… Lawmakers introduced the Chinese Exclusion Act, some of the lawmakers, including Senator Miller of California, described Chinese immigrants as a degraded and inferior race and a threat to national security. They stole jobs from white workers. They were also a danger to the public good of the country.
Erika Lee: (01:58:40)
And then during World War II, our military leaders were very explicit in their descriptions of Japanese people, Japanese-Americans, as “an enemy race.” One of the leaders of that was one of our military officials, Lieutenant General John L. Dewitt, who was in charge of making sure that Japanese-Americans were forcibly removed and relocated from the West Coast.
Mr. Cohen: (01:59:10)
Thank you very much. [crosstalk 01:59:10].
Erika Lee: (01:59:10)
Mr. Cohen: (01:59:12)
We have a miserable history in this area. I appreciate your elucidating upon it. And I’d now like to yield the remainder of my time to the Honorable Ted Lieu, Congressman from California.
Ted Lieu: (01:59:22)
Thank you, Chairman Cohen, for holding this important hearing and for allowing me to participate. Asian-Americans have now experienced a surge in hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination since the start of the pandemic. And I want to explore some of the reasons for that.
Ted Lieu: (01:59:38)
I was struck, Professor Motomura, when your testimony stated that individuals commit crimes, but they do so in a culture and a society that reflects many influences. And Professor Sinnar, in your testimony, you talked about the rhetoric being employed. Can you discuss whether there’s a link between the rhetoric being employed and the increase in hate crimes against Asian-Americans?
Shirin Sinnar: (02:00:08)
When [inaudible 02:00:12] of former President Donald Trump used racist dog whistles that are clearly interpreted as an effort to blame one community or one government, and by implication, the community of people who are thought to be associated with it, that affects the entire society. And Stop AAPI Hate’s research shows, as well, that those tweets from the former President were retweeted over a million times. So once you have that norm setting at the top, that normalizes stigmatizing a particular community for hate, it does lead to ripple effects across society at large.
Ted Lieu: (02:00:54)
Thank you very much. I’d like to now respond to the ranking Republican member today at the hearing. I previously served active duty in United States Air Force. I’m very aware of who the bad guys are and who our foreign enemies are. But this hearing is about Americans of Asian descent who are being targeted in the United States. It’s not about policing speech. I served on active duty so you can say whatever you want on the First Amendment. You can say racist, stupid stuff if you want. But I’m asking you to please stop using racist terms like Kung Flu or Wuhan Virus or other ethnic identifiers in describing this virus. I am not a virus. And when you say things like that, it hurts the Asian-American community. Whatever political points you think you are scoring by using ethnic identifiers in describing this virus, you’re harming Americans who happen to be an Asian descent. So please stop doing that. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:01:51)
Thank you, Representative Lieu for your service to our country and your service to our country today. Now recognize… oh, Mr. Burgess Owens is virtually with us. So Mr. Burgess Owens, the ball is in your court. Five minutes.
Burgess Owens: (02:02:09)
Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. One second, hold tight. We’ve heard a lot today about the alarming rise in violence against Asian-Americans. My heart goes out to the Asian-American community and all victims of crime. No one should feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods. I’m concerned that there’s a cultural lawlessness that’s become pervasive and impacts every community, and we need to follow the facts. For example, in 2008 survey by the San Francisco Police Department studied 300 robberies. In 85% of the assault crimes, the victims were Asian. The perpetrators were black Americans. Between 1980 and 2008, the Department of Justice found that 84% of white victims were killed by white offenders and 93% of black victims were killed by black offenders. What does this tell us about the possibility of a deeper, more systemic issue? Like the deterioration of the family unit and the negative impact it’s having on all communities.
Burgess Owens: (02:03:08)
In addition to the violence, we’re also seeing institutional discrimination against Asian-Americans in universities. Overall, the Asian community has been very successful academically, but it’s also been discriminated against because it’s a culture committed to meritocracy.
Burgess Owens: (02:03:22)
As someone who’s grown up in the 1980s, I understand exactly what institutional racism looks like, and using someone’s race as a factor against admission to college is totally un-American. Our colleges must end that now.
Burgess Owens: (02:03:36)
These issues are complicated, and I hope we can get to the bottom of the rise of the lawlessness that no American should experience, and also the institutional discrimination against Asian-Americans by our colleges and university. Our government cannot condone or take part in this type of racism.
Burgess Owens: (02:03:53)
Mr. Lehman, I do have a question. As you state, citizens in all communities, Asian-Americans among them, have the right to live free from [inaudible 02:04:05]
Mr. Cohen: (02:04:13)
Mr. Owens, you asked a question of someone, I believe? Who did you direct your question to? Mr. Lehman? Sounds like. It seems we have a problem with our system.
Speaker 8: (02:04:48)
[inaudible 02:04:48] Two minutes and 40 seconds get it back [inaudible 02:04:51].
Mr. Cohen: (02:04:53)
Can anybody hear me out there? Yeah, but nobody can hear it. So can we stop the time? Are we fixing it? Is he muted maybe? But I don’t think… Mr. Lieu, can you hear me? Mr. Layman, can you hear me? Well, I guess now we know why they call it WebEx.
Automated Voice: (02:06:01)
Thanks for waiting. We’ve let the host know that you’re here.
Mr. Cohen: (02:06:23)
Testing. Is there any… Anybody hear us? Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.
Charles Fain Lehman: (02:07:01)
Just swiftly and certainly enforced law in these communities.
Mr. Cohen: (02:07:06)
Mr. Layman, [crosstalk 02:07:07] can you hear me? Can people hear me? Mr. Layman, try to talk again.
Charles Fain Lehman: (02:07:12)
Yes, I can hear you. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize we cut out.
Mr. Cohen: (02:07:15)
You’re back on. You cut out at the two minute and 40 second mark. If you could rewind it there.
Charles Fain Lehman: (02:07:21)
Oh, yes. I’m sorry. I’ve been talking to it Representative Owens, I’m not sure. I guess it did not come through.
Mr. Cohen: (02:07:28)
Nobody could hear you. Rewind to two 40 and start over again. That’s something a Yale man should be able to do.
Charles Fain Lehman: (02:07:35)
Yes, sir. I don’t know [crosstalk 02:07:39].
Burgess Owens: (02:07:40)
Do I need to repeat the question?
Mr. Cohen: (02:07:41)
Please [crosstalk 02:07:42] repeat the question.
Burgess Owens: (02:07:44)
Okay. What do we need to do to end these attacks that we’re now seeing on the rise of being perpetrated against Asian-Americans? And I will say at other Americans that are going through the same issues at this point.
Charles Fain Lehman: (02:07:57)
Yeah, I think that the most important and most approximately effective policy response comes down to-
Speaker 9: (02:08:02)
The effective policy response comes down to acting to ensure safety in Asian communities. And the best tool that we have for that is public safety enforcement. It’s the police on the streets. I agree with my co-panelists that we want to combat bigotry in the hearts and minds of some Americans, but that’s not the most swift or certain way to reduce violent crimes in our communities, effective policing is.
Representative Owens: (02:08:23)
Okay. Thank you, Mr. [inaudible 02:08:26] is there a way to achieve diversity at institutions of higher learning without considering race within the application or admissions process?
Wencong Fa: (02:08:33)
Yes. I think there are ways to achieve diversity without using race on college campuses. I think when we talk about diversity, it’s a mistake just to think about it in terms of racial diversity. I think a lot of universities aren’t very diverse in terms of different ideologies different viewpoints. And I think we should be doing more to ensure that students on college campuses are hearing views from all sides.
Wencong Fa: (02:09:03)
In terms of racial diversity itself. I think there are certain ways that were proffered by the students for fair admissions in the Harvard case. Harvard currently, as it stands, gives preferences to athletes, to legacy admits, to big donors and also to children of faculty. And I think reducing or eliminating those preferences would lead to an increase in even racial diversity without using racial preferences.
Representative Owens: (02:09:39)
Very good. Thank you so much. And I’m going to yield back my time. Thank you so much.
Mr. Cohen: (02:09:43)
Thank you. Representative Owens. I now yield five minutes to the honorable, the distinguished, the renowned and the respected gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin.
Mr. Raskin: (02:09:58)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Anti-Asian American violence is skyrocketing. We’ve seen a 150% surge in anti Asian American hate crimes in major cities, including an 81 year old woman being punched in the face and lit on fire outside her own home. A 61 year old man being slashed in the face with a box cutter on the subway in New York City, a woman being doused in the face with a burning toxic chemical as she took out the trash at our home and a 15 year old boy being hospitalized after being attacked at school by a bully assailant who claimed he had COVID-19 because he was Asian.
Mr. Raskin: (02:10:38)
The governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, whose wife Yumi is Korean American, told me in a phone conversation yesterday that he and his wife and his daughter’s closest friends have all been affected by the new wave of hostility against the AAPI community. Governor Hogan told me that close family friends have been assaulted in a convenience store, screamed at by racist telling them to go back to China and told that they did not want to sit next to them on an airplane because they were Asian and had COVID. There’s no free speech defense to commission of violent assaults on Asian-Americans or anybody else. And the bizarre invocation of free speech in this context is a dangerous and irrelevant distraction from the violence engulfing AAPI communities across the land. We’ve got Korean American and Japanese American and Vietnamese American constituents who’ve been attacked by racist fanatics, screaming about the Wuhan flu.
Mr. Raskin: (02:11:36)
So just consider the leaps of illogic and fallacy, which lead to this kind of crime. First, you’ve got to blame the COVID-19 virus on the Chinese government or the Chi-Coms as the ranking member proudly puts it. An authoritarian government, which President Trump lavishly praised 37 different times in the first three months of COVID-19 for its excellent response. Then you’ve got to blame the lethal recklessness of President Trump, who said COVID-19 would magically disappear by Easter and suggested injecting bleach is a miracle cure and refuse to develop any nationwide plan to crush the virus on the Chinese government and on the Chinese people. Then you’ve got to associate the alleged policy errors of the Chinese government with the Chinese people. Then you must associate the Chinese people with Chinese American citizens of the United States. Then you must associate Chinese American citizens with Korean Americans, Vietnamese Americans, and so on.
Mr. Raskin: (02:12:35)
Then you must assume that all of your misguided and fallacious views justify violent attacks on Asian-American strangers. And all of these fallacies and lies are built on assumptions of collective guilt, mass punishment, and vigilante justice that are completely at odds with our constitutional values. So it’s remarkable to me that when we try to put a stop to this deranged violence, we have colleagues who think it’s irrelevant or productive to defend Donald Trump’s totally unmolested first amendment rights to blame his own failures on the Chinese government, which he enthusiastically praised 37 different times. So Mr. Yang is the invocation of free speech relevant or constructive to the dialogue about anti-Asian American violence and racism today?
John Yang: (02:13:22)
Thank you for that question. And thank you very much for expressing the power for awards that you do. Free speech is not a defense of this. We have no free speech right to yell fire in a crowded theater. And what is happening right now is that Asian-Americans are in a crowded theater where we are being in danger. The other point is regardless of free speech, all of us as leaders have an obligation to model behavior that we want our community to follow and model behavior that would lift our entire country up instead of trying to be divisive and make individuals or communities targets of hate when it is unnecessary. So the last thing that I would say is, as has been established by previous speaker, everyone agrees, there is no medical benefit to using terms such as China virus and Wuhan flu. And everyone agrees that there is some effect and you could debate how much, but there is an effect on the hate that the Asian American community has received. So the cost benefit analysis is clear the cost to the community, the Asian-American community of calling the term that it is, is great. The benefit of using these terms is nil. So in that regard, it makes no sense.
Mr. Raskin: (02:14:35)
Thank you so much. And professor Lee, would you agree that it is dangerous and irrational to conflate the question of random vigilante attacks and violence on American citizens with questions of foreign policy and the behavior of foreign governments?
Erika Lee: (02:14:57)
Yeah. Thank you for that great question. It is irrational, but it has been part of our historical record and we have seen where that hate as led. There has been too many times when Japanese Americans, for example, have been conflated with the Japanese enemy. This is one of the ways in which American racism works. We think we should have learned this lessons by now in the 21st century, that as all of the fellow witnesses have reiterated, a point that really should not need to be made in the first place. We are Americans. We are Americans of Asian descent. We are proud of that ancestry and heritage, but conflating us with a foreign government has been an age old way of denigrating us, separating us, making us other, and that has led to racism in the past and it’s leading to racism today.
Mr. Raskin: (02:15:59)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, thank you for this great hearing. And I yield back to you.
Mr. Cohen: (02:16:04)
Thank you Mr. Raskin. This problem that we see it with the Asian American community has been going on for years. The people who thrust this at us have seen Jews as being double citizens and having double citizenship, dual citizenship with Israel, which of course is not true, but that’s been put out too. And this type stuff has gone on for years and as professor Wiesel said people who hate, hate everyone. And I now like to yield to Ms. Fischbach.
Ms. Fischbach: (02:16:40)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I just have a quick, I guess, maybe not quick. A question for Mr. Fa and I was just wondering, in your work fighting discrimination in the education admissions process, do you find that this type of discrimination to be across all types of schools like public, private, regional, religious, non-religious I guess. I’m just kind of wondering if there’s a pattern or a general trend that you observe in the kinds of schools, the types of schools that are having issue?
Wencong Fa: (02:17:15)
Okay. Well certainly thank you Congresswoman for that question. Certainly this type of discrimination happens at different types of schools. The Harvard case obviously considers a private school that receives federal funding. So, that’s a lawsuit based on Title VI. The work that we do at Pacific Legal Foundation really focuses on the equal protection clause and the defendants in those cases are government entities and public schools. And we see that throughout the country, we’ve fought discrimination in places like New York, places like Virginia, places like Maryland. And we fought racial quotas representing not just Asian American families across the United States, but also black and Hispanic families who are being denied educational opportunities on the basis of race. So this is a prevalent issue in America, sadly today, but we look forward to enforcing our client’s rights under the equal protection clause and their right to equality before the law.
Ms. Fischbach: (02:18:20)
And, and Mr. Fa, maybe just kind of a follow up. There are some schools that certainly do better at not discriminating. And if you found that, are there some characteristics about those schools that they share that the others don’t have? Have you found anything about that?
Wencong Fa: (02:18:43)
Sure. So many of those schools where we have litigated, the admissions system at least previously had been governed by an objective tests that anybody can take, and your chances of getting into those specialized schools or magnet schools were determined by your score on the test. The highest scores on the test would get in no matter what their race or ethnicity. But unfortunately, local government in places like New York, Montgomery County, Thomas and Virginia have found the results to be, the schools have had too many Asians in their opinion. So they’ve changed the admissions policies in cases to discriminate against Asian-American students. And in the case of our New York clients, low income Asian American students, only because there were in their view, too many Asian Americans at those schools.
Ms. Fischbach: (02:19:51)
Thank you, Mr. Fa. And thank you, Mr. Chair, I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:19:56)
Thank you, Ms. Fischbach. And as terrible as that all is when my father went to medical school, many of those medical schools did not accept Jews at all. I now recognize Ms. Ross.
Ms. Ross: (02:20:12)
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this very important hearing during this very important and sad week. I want to thank everyone on the panel for being here. I want to let you know that my district in North Carolina is home to a large and vibrant Asian American community. These individuals, whether they were born here or came to North Carolina as immigrants are an essential part of the research triangle’s workforce and community. Wake County would not be the hub of innovation and culture that it is without their contributions. I’d like to ask unanimous consent to enter an article from our newspaper, the Raleigh News and Observer on Asian hate crimes that appeared today
Mr. Cohen: (02:21:06)
Without objection, that will be done.
Ms. Ross: (02:21:08)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, several of my constituents of Asian descent have reported racist incidents. One Chinese constituent was labeled a communist in a disparaging newspaper article. A college student found her Chinese New Year display in her dorm destroyed. Others have been verbally harassed to the extent that they worry about their safety in public. Unfortunately, this is not the first time in our nation’s history that Asian Americans have found themselves subject to discrimination as we’ve heard today. This stems directly from xenophobic federal policies. Earlier we heard representative Matsui testify about the impact of living in an internment camp on her family. I would like to address my first question to professor Modamura. I know that we’ve talked about anti-Asian laws and how they’ve contributed to our society. Could you give us examples of when anti-Asian laws have been repealed and how public sentiment has come to allow for that repeal?
Hiroshi Motomura: (02:22:27)
Well, there are several examples, but one is that as I mentioned in testimony, the Chinese exclusion laws were in place from the 1870s until 1943. And I think that one of the influences is that resulted in the repeal of Chinese exclusion was the allyship between United States and China in World War II. So there were, there were other events that came in. I’m not sure there was a particular change of heart with regard to Chinese American community, but there was at that time and then Professor Lee might be able to speak more to this, but there’s much more of a change of attitude trying to distinguish where there was a for her pursuing a time distinguished Chinese on foreign policy and more related reasons from Japanese Americans. And so in some sense, you could look at this as a change of heart with regard to Chinese-Americans, but you could also look at it as an attempt to demonize the Japanese Americans. This is in 1943.
Hiroshi Motomura: (02:23:25)
So that would be one example. And also in 1965, of course, and this is a very long history and we probably don’t want me to get into it on your time, but in 1965, of course you have the end of the National Origins Act. And that too is a racially restrictive scheme that was in place until from 1921 until 1965. And so a lot of influences, that was really part of the civil rights movement to end this a scheme that had strictly divided by race until 1965. So, we’ve had these incidents. We’ve had examples of it.
Ms. Ross: (02:24:01)
Thank you very much. And then just to follow up, are there examples of current or more recent immigration policies that have impacted the Asian-Americans and their families, even if perhaps they were not the targeted demographic? Were taking up immigration bills this week and I think that would be an important thing to know.
Hiroshi Motomura: (02:24:22)
Yeah, well, I think that there are different aspects of this. Some of this has to do with the inability of the American immigration system to fully accommodate the needs of the American economy with regard to workers. And so, you have a bills in place right now that would essentially grant legal immigration status to a number of workers. Many of them are essential workers. Many of them are from Asia. That would be one example of this. I think that there are restrictions right now that limit the ability of Asian immigrants to come to this country. But I think this is also a pattern and the patterns that I was trying to describe earlier, they relate to all different sorts of ethnic groups. I think a much more concerning piece of this or an equally concerning piece of this is, as I mentioned in testimony, the treatment of Latino immigrants and the inability of Latino immigrants to acquire a lawful immigration status. So that would be another one that I think was actually demographically, highly significant as well.
Ms. Ross: (02:25:33)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:25:36)
Thank you, Madam vice chair. Next I’ll recognize Mr. Henry Hank Calvin Johnson.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:25:50)
I thank the chairman for hosting this very timely hearing, and I would like to ask unanimous consent to submit a 31 second video produced by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta Organization regarding violence against members of the AAIP community, along with a letter asking for a community-based response to the violence in Atlanta, which is dated March 18, 2021 and is signed by multiple Asian American community groups in my district for the record.
Mr. Cohen: (02:26:32)
Unanimous consent is granted. Ms. Garcia, Ms. Ross, it’s unanimous.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:26:38)
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, my heart cries tears of sorrow and solidarity with the families [inaudible 02:26:52] mass murder in Atlanta [inaudible 02:26:53] left with tears of terror of what might happen next to them, their families, and their AAIP friends, whether the massacre in Atlanta was sex based or race based, it was hate based and directed at Asian women.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:27:14)
No question about it. If genocide against Native Americans and slavery are our nation’s original sin, then harassment and violence against Asian Americans is its progeny. As Georgia State Senator Michelle Ong presciently said on Monday, this recent violence against Asian-Americans is a new chapter in a very old story.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:27:45)
The correlation between the rise of xenophobic and racist rhetoric by President Trump and his Republican party supporters and the dramatic and alarming rise in violence against Asian Americans is not coincidental. It is an unfortunate and calculated result, which is open season on Asian Americans in this country. And when folks on this committee talk about Chi-Coms what they’re doing is they’re using these stereotypes against any people, and I resent it.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:28:32)
As a black man in America, I understand what it’s like to be targeted because of how you look. I understand how terrible it is to be viewed by your fellow citizens as other, in a nation that prides itself, supposedly on the melting pot of the world. America, it’s time to admit that we have a problem. It’s time to take affirmative action to correct that problem, and I look forward to a time where we can banish hate and replace it with love in this country. And with that, I’d like to ask you Mr. Yang about the fact that healthcare workers have specifically suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. How have Asian American healthcare workers been impacted by discrimination and violence over the last year, particularly those involved in the healthcare industry specifically?
John Yang: (02:29:35)
Thank you very much for that question. Thank you first for lifting up the work that is being done in Atlanta, by our community groups there. Because that is vital, it is important. And with respect to the healthcare workers in particular, those are essential frontline workers that we talk about. The people that are putting their health at risk to serve our entire country, not just Asian-Americans, but to serve our entire country. And both Ms. Farr Carney, as well as myself, what we’d look at the incidents that we have coming in, we get sent so many examples of healthcare workers getting shunned and getting spit, getting coughed on or statement saying that we don’t want them to treat us.
John Yang: (02:30:13)
And so it has had both a mental toll as well as in some cases, a physical toll. If I might, I do want to go back to one other piece with respect to the community-based response that we’re talking about, which is public safety is not the same thing as law enforcement. Yes, we absolutely need public safety, but we can re-imagine it in a way that we’re not putting sole reliance on law enforcement when we oftentimes, our communities don’t trust that vehicle. Thank you.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:30:40)
Thank you. This hearing is not about defunding the police either. And how does violence and discrimination affect the mental health of members of the AAIP community, collectively?
John Yang: (02:31:01)
If the question is directed to me, it’s clear it affects our entire community. If you ask any of your Asian American friends right now, they will say that this is on their minds. And so one thing I would urge people to do in this moment is to reach out to your friends, reach out to your community and make sure that they feel seen, they feel heard and they feel protected.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:31:23)
Thank you. Mr. Kim, has the government provided enough support to Asian American healthcare workers? And what role do you see Congress playing in addressing these concerns and providing more support to Asian American healthcare care and other frontline workers?
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:31:43)
Well, thank you for the question. I think as it pertains to healthcare workers, the thing that I find most anecdotally is that many of them are experiencing bigotry and hate even as they’re trying to help people fighting this virus. I think the ways that we can support them as friends and members of our community is some of the ways that we have. We’ve seen people play music for them at seven o’clock and clap for them. But the ways that our government can help is really just to support the community at large. And I think those frontline workers are also members of the AAPI community. They may be at work helping people, but they go home and they’re scared to go home the same way the rest of us are. And so I encourage us all to think about the frontline workers as part of the larger community. And these two bills that are before the committee right now will help all AAPIs.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:32:44)
Thank you. Professor Carney, what is the correlation between the rhetoric of the Trump administration and the rise in violence against AAIPs?
Manjusha Kulkarni: (02:32:58)
Congressman for your question. We know from a study that we did, excuse me, in the fall that actually over 700 of the incidents reported to stop AAPI hate of the 2,500 we had received at that point, actually correlated to comments that were made about China as the China virus, the Wuhan virus and Kung flu and similar comments that were made about sending people back to their country. So we know that in fact, comments like that have absolutely resulted in hate incidents being perpetrated against our community members. And we know that because the data shows it. And if I may add to that, just in terms of some of the resources that can be provided, I think local communities, as you have pointed out, could very much benefit from added funding and an infrastructure to provide support for our community members.
Henry Hank Calvin Johnson: (02:34:06)
Thank you. I want to make it clear that it’s not just white folks who are acting against AAIPs, it’s other communities, including black people. And I want to issue a challenge to all communities, to be aware of the fact that our brothers and sisters in the AAIP community are particularly targeted right now, and we need to embrace them with love and not contribute to the hate that is enveloping them. And with that, I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:34:40)
Thank you Mr. Johnson. Now I recognize the lady from Houston, Texas.
Ms. Garcia: (02:34:48)
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all the witnesses, especially my colleagues for sharing their very, very personal stories. At a time when we should be working together, helping one another as Americans to grapple with a COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all witnessed the Asian American community like Latinos and the other communities that are facing in alarming rise in violence, hate and discrimination. It is inherently un-American for anyone to discriminate and launch vicious hate crimes against an Asian American. Too often, immigrants have been blamed and scapegoated or harassed, telling them to go back to their country. I know I’ve been told to go back to Mexico. If we can play a quick video clip, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Cohen: (02:35:43)
Yes, ma’am. Play the video.
Speaker 10: (02:35:56)
Get the out of this world, get the out of this state. Go back to whatever Asian country you belong in.
Ms. Garcia: (02:36:12)
Go back to blank Asian country that you belong. Many of us have heard that. And this is just one example of the various types of discrimination and harassment that Asian-Americans, Latinos and others face too often in our country. This does not represent who we are as a nation. As president Biden has said, violence against Asian Americans is un-American and it must stop. And Mr. Kim, I know that you also added that we need to look at this as a humanity issue, because humanity matters.
Ms. Garcia: (02:36:51)
And the last time you were before this committee, you also told us that what is in the media visually in print, everywhere also matters. I wanted to ask you specifically about the rhetoric coming from politicians as some of you have testified. I know we have focused on the former president, but Senator Cornyn of Texas said, “China is to blame because a culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that. China has been the source of a lot of these viruses, like SARS, like MERS, the swine flu, and now the coronavirus.” Senator Cruz also from Texas, said that the Trump was not worried because he wasn’t serving bat soup in Hunan province. An apparent nod to the now debunked myth that outbreak started in Hunan. How do these words and all the coverage that all this gets in print and sometimes in the news visually, how does that impact hate crimes, hate incidents in this country? Are you unmuted, sir?
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:38:10)
Thank you for that question representative. Can you hear me?
Ms. Garcia: (02:38:12)
Yes, I can.
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:38:15)
First of all, I want to thank you for showing that clip of the woman in Torrance, California. That happens to be the neighborhood where my brother and his family live. And that woman is Latina, which highlights the point that you were trying to make that this is not just an issue of white people versus Asian people or black people versus Asian people. It is really a question of everybody versus acts of hate and bigotry. And that I think really needs to be highlighted, because this is not part just of the Asian American history, it’s part of the history of America. Now, to your question, I will say that, yes, it matters that other representatives, other than the president had been using these terms of hate and connecting Americans to a virus that they have no connection to whatsoever.
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:39:02)
It is part of our leadership. And I think I’m an idealist because I still do believe in the words of my leaders. I want to believe that they are setting the tone for the rest of the country and that when they use rhetoric like this, it not only affects adults, but it affects our children. It’s a shameful thing to have to say, don’t listen to what your president is saying. Don’t listen to what your Senator is saying. If you cannot teach your children the same things that you would ask of your leaders, then what example are we setting? And the way it becomes insidious in our culture is that this language permeates through to places like Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Sheriff’s office and Cherokee County who actually tweeted out t-shirts making fun of coronavirus and connecting it to China. This is a person who has a direct connection to the shooter of-
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:40:03)
And who has a direct connection to the shooter of eight people, he is not impartial. It calls into question, the veracity of his position. These are all ways in which it’s connected, and words matter, from our President, from our leaders, for anyone with a platform, which is why I’m here today to ask those of you who are leading us, to speak out for us instead of encouraging hate.
Ms. Garcia: (02:40:30)
Thank you. Thank you for that answer and I think what our children and all Americans see in the news, or hear, or read in the paper matters, because words do matter. And as you said, humanity matters, so thank you for the response. Mr. Chairman, I want to introduce the articles that I’ve referenced together with other articles, which unfortunately, the rhetoric is building and the coverage is building. I’d like to introduce these into the records, ask for unanimous consent.
Mr. Cohen: (02:41:06)
So done, without objection.
Ms. Garcia: (02:41:06)
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I thank you and I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:41:09)
Thank you, Ms. Garcia, and I believe we have Ms. Bush with us. And Ms. Bush, the honorable Congressperson from St. Louis, Missouri, up the river, is recognized. You have to unmute, though, Ms. Bush. Unmute.
Cori Bush: (02:41:22)
All right, I’m here. Thank you. And St. Louis and I, again, thank you Chairman, for convening this hearing. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the AAPI community. Many of whom have lost loved ones, been victims of white supremacist hate crimes, or in some way, have been victimized by the horrific incidents of this past year. My heart is with you. There are more than, and it’s been said before over and over again, 3000 hate crimes reported over the last year as a result of anti-Asian-American racism. That 3000 number, it’s horrific. And I don’t want to just gloss over, it’s 3000 incidents. The rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans is inherently tied to anti-Asian-American rhetoric, some of which have come out of this very chamber. Rhetoric which we have been told, even on this hearing today, that words don’t matter, that we shouldn’t be worried about words, but especially when people from a place of privilege speak about that.
Cori Bush: (02:42:26)
What can directly lead to physical harm? You have to own that, you have to own it causes harm. It causes harm to people, especially people of color. To call it out as if it does not matter, it does, because we’re talking about lives at stake. This is a refusal of responsibility and I’m going to call it out, and this is not a partisan thing. Last week, we held a hearing about member conduct and the need to engage from a place of respect, how we conduct ourselves as leaders, what we say, and who we engage with. That has a direct impact on what happens in our streets. It is our words, and it’s why our words and our actions as leaders are so important. Leading from a place of hate only fuels hateful and violent acts across our country. Leading with love starts with what we say, the words we use, and the meaning behind them. Words can build up communities, or break them down.
Cori Bush: (02:43:24)
What we’ve witnessed over the last four years is hateful white supremacist rhetoric. While I cannot speak on behalf of the AAPI community, I do want to say that I stand in solidarity with you, so organize, galvanize, and get justice. Fight against white supremacy with us. Two nights ago, for the six Asian women who tragically lost their lives as a result of racist sentiments, racist rhetoric, and racist policies, it’s not lost on me that we lost women, working women. In fact, a majority of anti- Asian hate crimes are committed against Asian women, and you all have said that over and over again today, but as a black woman, I want to speak that point. So professor Lee, are there reports or experiences that have particularly impacted you on an emotional level? Have you had increased fear for your own safety? I want to bring the humanity into this a little bit more.
Erika Lee: (02:44:25)
Thank you so much for asking. Thank you for those powerful words, powerful words of solidarity, and I think all of our communities really appreciate it. I am an educator, I’m also a researcher and writer, but my real day job is to get in the classroom, or in this case, during the pandemic, just here through Zoom. And my students are traumatized, our communities are traumatized. What this brings up is lifetimes, mysteries, family histories, of trauma. Trauma that perhaps some of our families thought was over and done with because, as Mr. Gang pointed out, the popular media image is that Asian-Americans have made it and everything is okay.
Erika Lee: (02:45:18)
What the pandemic has revealed is, the stark truth that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders remain victims of the similar types of white supremacy, that is, it has infected our country for so long. We have people who are afraid to go about their neighborhoods, to do their daily businesses, but we also have an outpouring of new resilience, I believe, of a wake-up call, as Daniel J. Kim mentioned, a reminder that we have been here before, that we have acted out. We have organized, we have sought justice in solidarity with others, and that we’ll continue to do so.
Cori Bush: (02:46:09)
Thank you. Mr. Yang, in addition to potential legislation, are there community actions being successfully taken to combat this anti-Asian American violence and harassment, and how best can the government support these efforts, the Federal Government?
John Yang: (02:46:25)
Thank you very much for that question. Thank you for the solidarity. Absolutely, the Federal Government can do more in terms of appropriations to make sure that these community organizations have the resources that they need, whether it is through grants, through the Office of Justice Programs at DOJ, ensuring that there is language access, ensuring that there’s multi-lingual capacities, there’s budget items for that. Those are some of the small pieces that the Federal Government can do. Certainly, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill, from Representative Mang and Senator Hirono is another piece to that, along with the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.
John Yang: (02:46:58)
I apologize, but I do need to go to one prior statement that Representative Garcia made about statements by senators. One report that we received on our website tracking hate, this person reported, “My dad and I were stopped at a red light when my dad noticed a man on the sidewalk. That man came up to me, called me a beep,” a female, so I’m not going to use the word, “a few times and then threatened to kick our teeth in. He did this while calling us disgusting mother effers, and telling us we need to stop eating bats and bringing disease over here.” So yes, words matter, words of our leaders matter. Thank you.
Cori Bush: (02:47:35)
Yes, thank you. And Mr. Chair, I ask consent to enter into the record, a document from the Asian-American table that details the kinds of programming that are crucial in this moment.
Mr. Cohen: (02:47:45)
Without objection, it shall be done.
Cori Bush: (02:47:46)
Thank you, and I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (02:47:48)
Thank you, Ms. Bush. And now I recognize the… I shouldn’t say the other lady, the First Lady from Houston, Texas, home of Archie Bell & the Drells, where they not only sing, but they dance. Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:48:03)
Chairman, thank you so very much. Let me very quickly say that all of us went into a extensive moment of mourning for the loss of those women and men, and others in the killings in Atlanta, but we cannot ignore, we cannot be un-sisterly and un-brotherly-like, to not notice the fact that they were innocent and six were Asian women. Asian-Americans, our sisters, we will not ignore. I would like to have a video shown right now.
Speaker 11: (02:48:52)
[inaudible 02:48:52] stuck my face with a knife.
Speaker 12: (02:48:54)
After the slash, the father of three says the attacker ran off, but as [Bowie 02:48:59] went for help, the 19-year-old suspect came back.
Speaker 11: (02:49:02)
He just focused to my son and just stuck. But I’m trying to save them, so I ran to them and pulled the car, but I cannot, a little bit late.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:49:21)
A three-year-old baby cut, a father cut. The assailant did this heinous act… Are we live? The assailant did this heinous act because he thought the family was Chinese and infecting people with the Coronavirus. He thought the family was Chinese and they were infecting people with the Coronavirus. Take your heads out of the sand. Where is the dignity? Where is the power of the respect for all people and the love of Americans? As we look at the outrage, let me put into the record, the 45th President always referring to Coronavirus as the China virus or Kung Flu, let me call his name, President Trump. Let me also say, in 1942, and I’m glad Congressman Matsui mentioned, that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing executive order 9066, which ordered the force internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, innocent, patriotic Americans.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:50:34)
In 1982, amid a downturn in the U.S. automobile industry, the competition was blamed on Japanese companies. A Chinese-American, Vincent Chin, was beaten to death. Not one of his perpetrators experienced time in jail. And so to you, Mr. Kim, on the evening of the discovery of who did this heinous crime of killing eight people, six of them Asian women, a law enforcement officer decided to say the words, “This individual had a bad day, and this is what happened.” I have a question as well for Mr. Kulkarni, but would you, Mr. Kim, just from your gut, just from your spirit, when you hear on national television, after the murder of six Asian women, that he had a bad day, what are your thoughts?
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:51:31)
Thank you for your question, Representative. Well, I will tell you to start that, when I have a bad day, I think about going home, having a beer, and watching a movie with my family. I don’t think about going out and murdering eight people. It says a lot about this person that when he says that he’s trying to eliminate temptation from his life, instead of seeking help for himself, his way of eliminating temptation is to kill people, take a gun and shoot people. And when he talks about sexual temptation, what does it mean when he sees the manifestation of sexual temptation as an Asian female? These are three places, all that had an association with Asian people. If this were a synagogue or a black church and someone shot up those places, would we really be asking whether this is a hate crime or not? And would we really have the burden of proof? It’s really important, I think, that you highlight Vincent Chin, because the judge in the case of Vincent Chin said that his white murderers, of his white murderers, these are not the kind of men you put in jail.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:52:49)
Thank you, Mr. Kim. Thank you, Mr. Kim.
Daniel Dae Kim: (02:52:51)
It echoes directly with what Jay Baker said when he tried to downplay the crime by saying he was having a bad day. [crosstalk 02:53:00]. Thank you.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:53:01)
Thank you so very much, Mr. Kulkarni, if I could get this question to you, what does the data show about the impact of anti-Asian rhetoric and violence that has on the mental health of members of the community. And then just quickly, Ms. Lee, if you would just quickly, on the historical record, which we’ve seen in other populations like African-Americans who were enslaved, that 1882 law, how does it continue to negatively impact? Mr. Kulkarni, on the data very quickly. And I thank the Chairman for his indulgence, I’ll be finished after these questions. I thank him very kindly. Mr. Kulkarni?
Manjusha Kulkarni: (02:53:36)
Yes, thank you so much for your question. We know that over 700 incidents result, included use of rhetoric against our community members, and that included virulent animosity, scapegoating, as well as anti-immigrant sentiment and racist characterization. And it has led to a 155% increase in depression and anxiety in our community members.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:54:04)
I thank you. Professor Lee, and let me indicate, Ms. Kulkarni, let me correct the record. Thank you so very much. I had stepped out when you were doing your testimony. Professor Lee, how does that historical moment [crosstalk 02:54:18]?
Erika Lee: (02:54:18)
Yes, thank you, absolutely interconnected. When we are passing these first federal laws to single out an immigrant group for exclusion based on race, we are also instituting Jim Crow segregation. We are also continuing our wars and genocide of indigenous Americans. White supremacy impacts all of us. It may impact us differently, but it impacts us all the same. Thank you.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (02:54:45)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is an excellent hearing. I thank you. I will commit to all of the witnesses, my commitment to anti-hate legislation, specifically dealing with Asian-Americans and really all of us, your dad and others, stand together in fighting against inequality in America. We will not have it. We will not stand for it. We stand with you. With that, I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cohen: (02:55:09)
Thank you, Ms. Lee. And I would ask unanimous consent to submit 60 letters and documents from civil rights groups and NGOs that were submitted today. Without objection, they’re entered into the record. Mr. McClintock, I see you’re with us, and would you desire any time? You’re certainly afforded it.
Tom McClintock: (02:55:27)
Yeah. Yes, I would. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cohen: (02:55:29)
You’re welcome. You’re recognized for five minutes.
Tom McClintock: (02:55:32)
Thank you. We seem to be confusing the opposition to the Chinese government, including its actions during the Coronavirus pandemic, with hostility toward eight Americans of Asian descent. And I find that very confusing, since many Asian-Americans spread abuse to governments, including and especially, the Chinese communist regime. Hostility to that government is not hostility to its victims, quite the contrary. Yet, that seems to be the connection that many people are making today. There are despicable racists of every color, in every society, it is the baser side of human nature. But no nation has struggled harder to transcend that nature and isolate and ostracize it’s racists, than have Americans. The American founders placed principles in the Declaration of Independence that they believe would someday produce a nation of free men and women of all races and all religions, together enjoying the blessings of liberty and equal protection of our laws. Lincoln denounced any other claim as, “Having an evil tendency, if not an evil design.”
Tom McClintock: (02:56:42)
The violent attacks that have been cited today against Asian-Americans, are heinous, they are despicable, they are inexcusable, but there are two statistics that should add some perspective to this issue. According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Act report, of all 4,930 victims of reported hate crimes, are motivated by race or ethnicity. 48.5% were due to anti-black bias, 15.7% were due to anti-white bias, 14.1% were due to anti-Hispanic or Latino bias, and 4.4% were due to anti-Asian bias. What should make us all proud as Americans, is the fact that Asian-Americans have the highest median income of any ethnic group in America, including white Americans. Median income for Asian-Americans is 38% higher than the national median. If America were such a hate-filled, discriminatory, racist society, filled with animus against Asian-Americans, how do you explain the remarkable success of Asian-Americans in our country? [crosstalk 02:57:56].
Tom McClintock: (02:57:55)
Their success should bring us all together as Americans, to celebrate the opportunities that our country offers to all who seek the blessings from liberty. It deeply saddens me that instead of uniting as Americans, this hearing seeks to divide us as Americans. Any racist sentiment, speech, or act, needs to be vigorously condemned. But to attack our society as systemically racist, a society that has produced the freest, most prosperous, and most harmonious multiracial society in human history, well, that’s an insult and it’s flat-out wrong. Shakespeare reminded us that, “We have no such mirrors as we’ll turn our hidden worthiness into our eye, we might see our shadow.” The protesters fighting for their freedom in Hong Kong, resisting their takeover by the communist government of China, waved American flags as a symbol of their aspirations. Perhaps we should look to them as a mirror to appreciate our own society’s hidden worthiness. And I’d ask Dr. Fa, if he’s still in the committee room, for any thoughts he might have on the subject.
Mr. Cohen: (02:59:13)
Yeah. Do you yield back the rest of your time, sir?
Tom McClintock: (02:59:19)
I’d like to yield it to Dr. Fa, if he’s still there.
Mr. Cohen: (02:59:20)
Okay, sure. Dr. Fa, he yielded to you.
Wencong Fa: (02:59:25)
Oh, thank you. It’s Mr. Fa, I don’t have my doctorate degree, but thank you. I think the Congressman’s words were very powerful. I do agree that we’re all Americans, we’re all entitled. We all have our individual rights, individual liberty. No one has born more or less liberty than someone else because of race. I think what comes out of this hearing should be that, we’re all entitled to equality before the law to be treated as individuals, to be treated based on her own individual aspirations, individual achievements, and individual accomplishments, and not to be discriminated against because we happen to be in a racial group that someone else might not like. Thank you.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (03:00:12)
Will the Congressman yield?
Mr. Cohen: (03:00:13)
My sentiments exactly, thank you.
Sheila Jackson Lee: (03:00:15)
Will the Congressman yield? This is [crosstalk 03:00:21]. Will you yield for a moment, Mr. McClintock?
Tom McClintock: (03:00:24)
Sheila Jackson Lee: (03:00:26)
Let me express my appreciation for your interpretation. I think one of the things I would ask the gentleman to consider, 4%, but we don’t want one life to be taken in the name of hatred and race discrimination, or ethnicity discrimination. I think the Chin case, Mr. McClintock, where an individual was beaten to death because they thought he was Chinese, when the car industry went down, and his perpetrators were not even one day in jail because [crosstalk 03:01:00].
Tom McClintock: (03:00:59)
I’m reclaiming my time. I agree with the gentle lady completely. What I think we need to be careful about is, changing our entire society with the actions, the hideous actions of a few, whatever their race, and whatever is the race of their victim.
Mr. Cohen: (03:01:20)
Thank you, Mr. McClintock. [crosstalk 03:01:22]. I appreciate it. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your comments and you’re right, we’re still trying to form a more perfect union. We are now in the situation of having a second round, and the first person in the second round is me. And I’m going to yield my time to Ms. Jayapal, she’ll have five minutes. You’re recognized.
Pramila Jayapal: (03:01:41)
Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for including me in this hearing and for yielding your time. I want to start by saying some names, some names that we all should be saying every minute of every day and there’re just a few, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michel’s, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, Julie Park, Hyun-jeong Park. These were people who were murdered in Georgia, just a couple of days ago. And Mr. Chairman, I would just say as an Indian immigrant woman, the first South Asian-American elected to the House of Representatives, the violence and discrimination targeting the Asian-American community hits very close to home. And it’s been a difficult hearing, an important hearing, but a very difficult hearing for many of us. Shortly after 9/11, I founded OneAmerica, Washington State’s largest immigrant rights group, initially to fight back against backlash, targeting Muslim Sikh and South Asian communities.
Pramila Jayapal: (03:02:36)
Back then, it was Balbir Singh Sodhi who was murdered on September 15th, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona. He was shot five times by a man who just, “Wanted to kill a Muslim.” A man who said, as he was arrested, “I stand for America all the way.” Mr. Chairman, there is no question that our words matter, our framing matters, and particularly as members of Congress, when we use our platforms to continue slurs that are seen in a way that encourages racist hate crimes, it is a big problem. Just recently in a committee hearing, some of my colleagues across the aisle continued to call it the China virus. I spoke up, I said that was not correct language, number one, and number two, it incited this kind of hate. And yet, my colleagues continued to use that language. And now here we are continuing to see a huge surge in hate crimes and violence targeting, in particular, most recently, Asian women. I want to start with you, Professor Motomura, how does the history of racist laws that promoted distrust towards Asian-Americans, influence the hate we are seeing today?
Hiroshi Motomura: (03:03:51)
Well, those influences are very profound. We start with the Chinese exclusion era, it’s exclusion, as we’ve heard today, exclusion of Asian immigrants, most Asian immigrants. Oh, I’m sorry, Chinese immigrants starting in 1882, it prevails for 60 years. It stunts the growth in the Chinese-American community. We have severe restrictions on Asian immigration, formal restrictions until 1965. I feel, as I mentioned, my testimony is very strongly because my own family was one of the few families that managed to get to the United States during that period. We joined a community that really didn’t exist at that time, of my parents’ contemporaries. These are things that you carry with you for your whole life.
Hiroshi Motomura: (03:04:42)
I remember a lot of the sorts of incidents that we’re talking about today, having close calls and those sorts of things. And this is a long time ago, but things that we see from those laws, I think we’ve seen this with regard to the ban that was imposed on majority Muslim countries, that prevailed over the last four years. And I think that’s not exactly entirely what we’re talking about today, but I think it’s very closely-related. I think that a lot of this is something that prevails over time, this is not something that is [inaudible 03:05:18] to a five-year period or 10-year period, but I think we’re still seeing effects, as we’ve seen today, of anti-Chinese laws that took effect in 1875 and 1882.
Pramila Jayapal: (03:05:30)
Thank you, Professor. Professor Sinnar, you have written about 9/11 and the discriminatory laws and policies against Asian-American, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh communities that came after. Do you believe that there’s a strategy behind demonizing these groups in times of crisis and fear?
Shirin Sinnar: (03:05:49)
Thank you for your comments and your question to me, Representative Jayapal. What happened after 9/11, was that the government undertook a number of dragnet immigration programs that treated entire communities as threats. Hundreds of immigrants were detained on the basis of their race and ethnicity, without an individual basis for suspicion. 25 Muslim countries, their citizens were subject to special registration, fingerprinting, and interrogation. And all of this sent the message that Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities were disloyal and threatening. And the lesson here is that, in times of geopolitical tension and security fears, it’s especially important for the government to avoid stigmatizing entire communities, because it does lead to greater violence and discrimination, both in the public sphere as well as [inaudible 03:06:44] policy directly.
Pramila Jayapal: (03:06:45)
Thank you. I just want to say, I hope that my colleagues understand their words matter and we need everyone’s help in fighting back against these racist attacks. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. Cohen: (03:07:01)
I yield back. Thank you. That concludes today’s hearing and I want to thank all of our witnesses. It was a spectacular panel, a lot of knowledge, a lot of information that was important to be dispensed. And I think we did a lot of good today, I hope so. And it brought Hawaii Five-O’s theme song back to my mind, which has been playing over and over and over and over again. Without objection, all members will have five legislative days to submit additional written questions for the witnesses or additional materials for the record. With that, the hearing is adjourned. (silence) We brought context in which we hold today’s hearing on the Constitutional framework for Congress’s ability to uphold standards for member conduct. Events of the last few months have put members of Congress on edge, and the emotional repercussions of these events continue to ripple through the House of Representatives.
Mr. Cohen: (03:10:50)
To be absolutely clear, my hope in holding this hearing is not to increase the tension inside the people’s House, an institution that we all proudly serve in. Rather, I hope this hearing will serve as a productive exercise in educating ourselves and the public, about the scope of Congress’s authority to maintain discipline within its own rights, as informed by relevant precedents and policy considerations. Let me clear what this hearing is not about. We are not here to adjudicate allegations about potential wrongdoing against specific colleagues, nor are we here to speculate about what punishments could be meted out against any of our colleagues, nor are we here to pass judgment on who does or does not meet minimum qualifications for office, which is also, constitutionally-speaking, not a question of member discipline. These questions are outside of the jurisdiction of the sub-committee. Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2, of the Constitution provides that each house of Congress may determine the rules of its procedures.