Durbin Joins AJC to Speak out Against Chinese & Asian American Discrimination During COVID-19 Pandemic

SPRINGFIELDU.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined AJC Chicago and AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute for a virtual panel discussion entitled, “Declaration of Support for the Illinois Chinese-American Community,” to speak out against Chinese and Asian-American discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The discussion, which was in partnership with United Chinese Americans (UCA) and Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community (CBCAC), focused on the challenges the Chinese and Asian-American communities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of President Trump’s rhetoric, the particular challenges facing Chinese-American businesses, and how Americans can help affected communities.

“We all must do our part to stand up to hate and discrimination. And that includes holding our leaders accountable when they contribute to this growing threat.  I have repeatedly called on President Trump and officials in his Administration to stop using careless, insensitive terms when discussing this pandemic,” Durbin said.  “Today, it is the Chinese-American and Asian-American communities that need our support, but in the future, it could be your community facing discrimination.  I’m proud to join AJC today and stand in solidarity with the Chinese-American and Asian-American communities, in Chicago, the state of Illinois, and across the country.”

On March 18, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action launched Stop AAPI Hate, an online reporting forum that has been collecting information on incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  As of March 27, more than 750 reports had been received, and about half of the respondents said that incidents of harassment have occurred at businesses, especially grocery stores and retail stores.  In the data released on March 25, the organizations said that 2.5 percent of the reported incidents occurred in Illinois.

Earlier this year, Durbin, along with U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), reintroduced bicameral legislation to address the growing domestic terrorism threat.  The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020 would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by establishing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.

Along with Durbin, the other panelists for today’s discussion included:

  • Grace Chan, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community
  • Nancy Chen, Advisory Board member of United Chinese Americans Illinois and Board Member of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute
  • State Rep. Theresa Mah, co-chair of the Illinois House Progressive Caucus and the first Asian American to serve in the Illinois House of Representatives