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MN Asian American Coalition Builds on Policy, Including Anti-Hate

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Friday, February 25, 2022   

As it closes in on its first decade, a Minnesota organization connecting Asian American communities looks to have more of its voices included in policy matters. A key priority includes legislation to address hate crimes toward its members.

ThaoMee Xiong was recently named executive and network director for the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL), founded in 2013. She said based on the strong work carried out by past leadership, they are in good position to enter their next phase.

Xiong noted CAAL has seen policy victories in the past. But with her background, including being one of the first Hmong American lobbyists in Minnesota, she hopes to see more success at the state Capitol.

Xiong pointed to a bill which would broaden current statutes in responding to hate crimes.

"Our communities continue to experience individualized hate crimes as well as organizational hate crimes by individuals who feel like they're entitled to blame, shame and discriminate against Asian Americans," Xiong explained.

Supporters said the bill closes loopholes in investigating these incidents, including whether vandalized property is owned by the intended victim. Xiong added they hope it also encourages people to report something when they've been targeted in a hate crime.

It was nearly a year ago when six women of Asian descent were killed in a string of shootings in Georgia. While many elected leaders pledged support following the attacks, Xiong emphasized the public needs to have a greater understanding of what communities are experiencing.

"It's hard to elevate the concerns of hate crimes against Asians, when Asians themselves are invisible," Xiong stated.

Xiong stressed another legislative priority is expanding post-conviction relief. The change they are seeking would allow immigrants to fight a past conviction without fear of deportation. The bill has bipartisan support, but has been mired in a legislative logjam. Meanwhile, CAAL's longtime director, Bo Thao-Urabe has transitioned to an advisory role with the group.

References:  
House File 1691 2022

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