Open Letter to Congressional Leaders
The American Medical Student Association invites you to sign onto this open letter to Congressional leaders calling on them to condemn the racist epithets used by the Trump administration and others in their response to the COVID-19 crisis. In the face of mounting physical and verbal attacks on our Asian American communities and other alarming incidents, we as future physicians call on our leaders to demonstrate courage in opposing these trends. Please join us in signing this open letter. Email eaf@amsa.org with any questions or for organizational sign-on.

March 29th, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol Building, H-222 Washington,
DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy Republican Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol Building, H-204 Washington,
DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
U.S. Capitol Building, S-230 Washington,
DC 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer Democratic Leader
U.S. Senate
U.S. Capitol Building, S-221 Washington,
DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), and the undersigned organizations and individuals, we urge you to publicly denounce the increase in racist, xenophobic attacks and discrimination against the Asian American community in the wake of rising concerns over the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

As a community of future physicians, the 30,000+ members of the AMSA have watched with alarm the increase in verbal and physical altercations targeting Asian American in connection to COVID-19. We are deeply concerned about the impact of rising xenophobia on the mental and physical health of these individuals and their communities.

There has already been an increasing number of hateful acts against Asian Americans. On March 19th a coalition of Asian American groups launched a website where people can self-report racist incidents through forms in seven different languages. In the past two weeks, the website has already received more than 400 reports in English alone [1]. For example, a woman wearing a face mask in New York was punched and verbally abused at a subway station [2]. A 16 year-old Asian American in Los Angeles was taken to the emergency room after being accused of having the coronavirus, and physically assaulted at school [3]. More recently, an Asian family in Texas was targeted during a knife attack while grocery shopping on March 15th, and both the father and son were cut badly across their faces [4].

The stigma associated with COVID-19 originating in China is leading some to assume that any person of perceived Asian ancestry might be sick, harming Asian American communities all over the country. President Donald Trump and the GOP’s use of the term “Chinese virus” in reference to COVID-19 has only put a target on Asian Americans. Though after a week of this rhetoric the president has tweeted “it is very important we protect our Asian American community,” the damage has already been done. Local efforts to curb xenophobia, like city officials reminding the public that it is safe to visit their local Chinatown are helpful, but we believe more needs to be done.

On February 26, 2020, the members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) circulated a letter to Members of Congress, urging them to help stop the spread of xenophobia and misinformation by only sharing confirmed and verifiable information pertaining to COVID-19, how it spreads, and how Americans should protect themselves. We urge you to do the same. In the face of this growing threat, the American people need to hear from leaders such as yourselves, that we must face these circumstances together rather than allowing fear and misinformation to divide us.

In the face of this growing public health and economic threat, our nation must come together. We urge House and Senate leadership to take tangible steps to counter the hysteria around COVID-19, such as passing a joint resolution denouncing the racism, xenophobia, and misinformation surrounding it.

We further ask that you act to ensure that this crisis is not used to further xenophobic or covertly racist policies that have no basis in science, such as border walls. We ask that you intervene to ensure that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials take no further actions that might endanger the lives of undocumented individuals, families and asylum-seekers and contribute to further spread of the outbreak.

We thank you for your consideration and ask that you act swiftly to ensure that further violence, racism, and spread of COVID-19 rooted in fear and misinformation is mitigated. Thank you for your leadership during this time of crisis.

Sincerely,

Footnotes:
[1] https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/3/25/21190655/trump-coronavirus-racist-asian-americans Accessed March 26, 2020.
[2]https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/coronavirus-hate-attack-woman-face-mask-allegedly-assaulted-man-who-n1130671 Accessed March 26, 2020.
[3]https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/02/13/teen-student-in-la-assaulted-as-coronavirus-fears-stoke-racial-backlash/ Accessed March 26, 2020.
[4]https://www.cbs7.com/content/news/FIRST-ON-CBS7-Suspect-admitted-to-trying-to-kill-family-at-Midland-Sams-Club-affidavit-says-568837371.html Accessed March 26, 2020.
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