Congress Passes Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, Endorsed by the Sikh Coalition
May 18, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) -- Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act as part of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which will improve how hate crimes are reported by law enforcement to help better protect communities. The bill will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed and is the first major piece of hate crime legislation in 12 years. The passage of this bill comes at a time when our nation is grappling with a surge in hate crimes, including the xenophobic targeting of Asian American communities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act was named in honor of two hate crime victims, Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer, whose murders were prosecuted as hate crimes but not appropriately included in hate crime statistics. This bill will modernize the federal hate crime reporting system and encourage state and local law enforcement to report hate crime statistics to the federal government. It will also create opportunities to rehabilitate hate crime offenders by giving them the option of learning more about the community they targeted and participating in community service projects. Lastly, this bill will create better hate crime victim support and assistance services like hate crime reporting hotlines.
“To curb hate crimes, we need accurate data. Having this data will help to identify the prevention strategies required to keep our communities safe,” said Sim J. Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager. “After many years of advocacy by leading civil rights organizations, the passage of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act marks the first necessary step towards resolving the longstanding problem of hate in our nation.”
The Sikh Coalition has advocated for better hate crime reporting and victim support services since our founding in the aftermath of 9/11. In 2013, after a successful three-year campaign by the Sikh Coalition, the FBI agreed to track anti-Sikh hate crimes, giving policymakers official data about anti-Sikh violence for the first time in our nation’s history. Since the FBI started tabulating this data in 2015, anti-Sikh hate crimes have seen, on average, a year over year increase exceeding 100%, and Sikhs are now documented as one of the top five most targeted faith groups. Even worse, based on the Sikh Coalition’s own reporting, these shocking numbers published by the FBI still only capture a fraction of the hate crimes Sikhs experience in the United States.
Hate crime data collected by the FBI does not account for all of the hate crimes faced by vulnerable communities due to inadequate training and the lack of incentives local and state law enforcement agencies have in reporting hate crime statistics to the FBI. Additionally, other challenges hinder hate crime reporting, including a lack of trust with law enforcement and personal stigmas. To help address these challenges, the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act will encourage law enforcement to better document and report hate crimes to the FBI and establish hotlines to assist victims who may be reluctant to come forward. This legislation will also allocate resources to law enforcement to develop better hate crime initiatives.
The Sikh Coalition was among the first civil rights organizations to support the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act when it was first introduced in 2019, and again when the new Congress reintroduced it in April 2021. The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and the Arab American Institute for their leadership in this important piece of federal legislation, as well as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The Sikh Coalition will continue working tirelessly with state and federal policymakers to bring forward solutions to reduce hate crimes affecting our communities.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.