The White House on Tuesday announced a handful of new actions intended to combat anti-Asian “violence, xenophobia, and bias,” including new funding for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
The announcement comes after a gunman allegedly shot and killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at several massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month.
Among other steps, the Department of Health and Human Services is allocating $49.5 million from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package for a new grant program designed to support Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
HHS is also setting up a special subcommittee on a COVID-19 “Health Equity Task Force” to try to mitigate anti-Asian xenophobia and bias in the federal government’s COVID-19 response, according to the White House.
The response also includes new efforts from the Justice Department to address anti-Asian violence, a new virtual library devoted to Asian American history and research into discrimination from the National Science Foundation.
After the Atlanta shootings, President Biden had called on Congress to pass new hate crimes legislation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Police are still trying to determine a motive for the alleged gunman, Robert Aaron Long, 21, who has been charged with eight counts of murder.
Mr. Biden said after the shootings that scapegoating and harassment of the AAPI community needs to stop, even as he acknowledged the investigation was ongoing.
The White House announced a new AAPI liaison position last week after Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii threatened to hold up Mr. Biden’s non-minority nominees to protest the lack of AAPI members in the president’s Cabinet.