TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — As Congress is set to take final action on a bill to curb anti-Asian hate crimes, one Asian-American lawmaker in Kansas is pushing for change.
“Asian Americans are really feeling this wave of violence,” said Representative Rui Xu, D-Westwood.
A rise in Asian American violence has sparked a national debate, with Congress set to move forward with a bill that would help victims report hate crimes and provide guidance to law enforcement.
U.S. Senator Roger Marshall was one of six senators to oppose the bill in a preliminary vote on Wednesday. Congress is expected to take final action on the bill next week.
Xu, who was a victim of a verbal attack in Western Kansas in March, told Kansas’ Capitol Bureau on Thursday he was disappointed in U.S. Senator Roger Marshall’s vote to oppose the bill.
“I would hope that he takes this opportunity to speak to the Asian Americans that he represents,” he said.
According to Marshall’s office, the senator voted against the bill because there are already federal statutes in place to address hate crimes, and actions being taken by the Department of Justice to address the issue.
“There is already a federal hate crimes statute that prohibits willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to someone based on their race, color, religion and national origin (along with a number of other protected classes). The DOJ already has the authority to do many of the things contained in the bill. Attorney General Garland has already ordered internal DOJ review on tracking and prosecution of hate crimes, specifically noting COVID-related hate crimes.”U.S. Senator Roger Marshall’s Office
However, Xu said it’s time for the nation and state to take action. He introduced a proposal in January to establish a board to represent Asian-Americans in the state. He told Kansas’ Capitol Bureau he’s hoping to move forward with it either this year or the next legislative session.
“Asian Americans are a relatively quiet political force, especially in Kansas,” Xu said. “There’s very little organization, so this would be a good opportunity to get those voices at the table.”