Remarks by HHS Deputy Secretary Palm at the One-Year Anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

Andrea Palm

Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building
Washington, D.C.

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Attorney General Garland, for hosting this event.

On behalf of Secretary Becerra and our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services, it is my pleasure to join you in commemorating the one-year anniversary of the signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

I also want to acknowledge the representatives of Mr. Khalid Jabara and Ms. Heather Heyer’s families — who are here with us today — for being instrumental in the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act being incorporated in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

The Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act will help address the underreporting of hate crimes and improve police response to hate crimes. Thank you for joining us.

We’ve seen what hate can do when it is left unchecked.

We saw it last year in the fatal shootings of eight people — including six Asian women — in the Atlanta metro area.

We saw it last Saturday when ten Black Americans were murdered in Buffalo.

And we saw it once again in the deadly attack on Taiwanese Church parishioners in Laguna Woods, California one day later.

While we can’t change the past, we can honor victim’s memories by working to prevent more suffering moving forward… and that is what today is about.

Last year, when President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, he left no doubt that we stand together as a nation against hate and racism.

Because hate doesn’t just kill. It leaves scars on individuals and on entire communities not only today, but sometimes through generations.

And it’s not just a matter of law enforcement, it is a matter of public health.

That is why on today’s anniversary of the signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, DOJ and HHS are releasing joint guidance to help our communities raise awareness about hate crimes that have occurred throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance is based on the expertise and experiences of DOJ and HHS, a review of available resources about the rise of hate crimes and hate incidents during the pandemic, the input of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, and this guidance is highly informed by community input. Communities shared, and we listened.

Through the joint guidance, DOJ and HHS aim not only to raise awareness about hate crimes and hate incidents, but also to propel action, response, and prevention to address this urgent crisis. 

In it we provide eleven recommended methods to better address hate crimes and hate incidents, such as:

  • Engaging health care providers, clinics, and health systems in efforts to address hate crimes and hate incidents.
  • Prioritizing cultural competence and language access so that we can address unlawful acts of hate as well as xenophobia stemming from public health crises.
  • And prioritizing community outreach.

Through these actions, we can both prevent and respond to acts of hate, and we can empower law enforcement, government officials, public health systems, and community-based organizations to protect and support communities most frequently impacted by them.

In all, the guidance is an important tool to prevent and respond to hate crimes and hate incidents.

Beyond this guidance, I can tell you that at HHS we are committed to doing our part to protect the health and wellbeing of all communities against hate and bias.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began we’ve launched campaigns to advance vaccine equity.

We’ve launched an Equity Technical Assistance Center to provide training, tools, and technical assistance for HHS employees to make sure that our policies, programs, research, and analyses are more equitable.

And through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within HHS, we’re working every day to address the immediate impacts of the pandemic on AA and NHPI communities – from the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, to the health and economic disparities that have been exacerbated over the past two years.

We are committed to continue building on this work and we are grateful to have stalwart partners in our efforts.

In closing, I want to thank our partners:

  • Senator Mazie Hirono, author of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
  • Congressman Don Beyer, Congressman Mark Takano, and Congressman Andy Kim
  • Attorney General Garland
  • Deputy Attorney General Monaco
  • Associate Attorney General Gupta
  • And our community partners across the nation.

Today we have a chance to chart a new course and to fight hate in all its forms.

To everyone watching… join us.

We will never learn to live with hate. And we will never stop working until we eradicate hate from our communities.

And now I would like to introduce Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to say a few words.

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