BOISE, Idaho (CBS2) — “Today, I'm directing federal agencies to combat the resurgence of xenophobia, particularly against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, that we've seen skyrocket during this pandemic. This is unacceptable and it's un-American.”
On Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden signed a memorandum denouncing discrimination directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community that has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 1.8% of Idaho's population identifies as Asian or Pacific Islander. Locals in the Treasure Valley say this directive is a step in the right direction and others say, there's a long way to go.
President Joe Biden's anti-Asian directive is part of a group of other Executive Orders for the Department of Justice. It includes ways to "better collect data and assist with the reporting of anti-Asian hate incidents."
Since Mid-March, U-S based non-profit Stop AAPI Hate has tracked more than 2500 anti-Asian hate incidents. The hate incidents include instances of physical assault and verbal harassment.
Many Asians in Idaho feel that it is a step in the direction.
“Idaho has been excellent that I haven’t experienced anything blatant. But when I was in the military, it was very blatant," said Boise resident, Annie Elliott. "I was in a laundromat and people said 'ching chong.' Being in Idaho I haven’t experienced it as much, the only thing was somebody refer to it as the 'china flu' and say your people did that.'"
“I think it’s a good step to have," said Boise resident Dru Tolentino. "I have relatives who have experienced racist incidents related to COVID, so I’m glad this is happening.”
However, others say Idaho has been kind and they have not experienced any discrimination in the state.
Elliott says she is excited about the Executive Order, but hopes it will bring actual change to the country.
“Biden talks about being good at being good with data, that is a good first step," Elliott said. "But it would be really nice to see some education come from it.”
Asian American activist Jason Chu says there are many ways non-Asians can help combat racism.
“Asians are members of this community with over 170 years of history in America," Chu said. "So if people want to support Asian Americans, being able to affirm and show solidarity with us by saying 'we belong here' would go a long way.”
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division plans to deal with racist attacks through outreach to communities and coordination of civil rights enforcement.