New COVID-19 testing mandates for travelers arriving from China into the U.S. went into effect Thursday, requiring all passengers two and older to provide negative results from tests taken no more than two days before travel.
While other nations such as Japan, India and South Korea have taken similar measures, some Asian community advocates in the U.S. worry that the move could spark anti-Asian hate and bias while unfairly singling out one particular group of travelers.
Harmful rhetoric may ignite the firestorm, advocates say.
“What we’ve seen is that it’s not only policies alone that spur incidents, but the language that elected officials and public figures use,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, a San Francisco-based consortium of several groups formed in response to rising anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kulkarni cited inflammatory terms such as “kung flu” used by former President Donald Trump and others as the pandemic began to unfold in 2020, followed by the stricter public charge rules affecting Asian immigrants and mass deportations of those from Southeast Asia.
“Since we started receiving incident reports in March 2020, we have more than 11,000 reports from individuals across the country who have experienced anti-Asian hate,” said Kulkarni, who is also executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance, a coalition of organizations serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County, California. “There are many sources of information that drive animosity, but combined, it has the effect of legitimizing the scapegoating of Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans.”