WASHINGTON (Feb. 15)
A bill to create a federal commission to investigate how Nazi collaborators were able to enter this country after World War II was introduced last week in the House of Representatives.
The bill is among three congressional efforts backed by Jewish groups to increase the government’s role in investigating hate-motivated violence.
On Tuesday, 79 members of the House of Representatives asked President Bush to support “stricter law enforcement of bias-related crimes and more security for Jewish institutions.”
A letter sent to Bush, initiated by Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.), cites the report by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased from 694 in 1987 to 823 last year.
It also asks President Bush to “ensure that the criminal justice system is responding appropriately to this dangerous increase in anti-religious crimes.”
Signers of the letter include key members of the House Judiciary subcommittees on crime and criminal justice, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), William Hughes (D-N.J.) and Don Edwards (D-Calif.).
This “brutal form of bigotry is increasingly found among our nation’s young people,” the letter continued. Such incidents took place at 38 colleges, a “huge” 14-percent increase from 1987, they asserted.
The ADL report attributes some of the surge to increased activity by neo-Nazi groups such as the Skinheads, the lawmakers told Bush.
But no legislation to deal with the issue is planned. The purpose of the letter was to send “general signals” to Bush, ADL Washington representative Jess Hordes said.
The one bill expected in that area, which would require the Justice Department to gather data on crimes motivated by hate, will be introduced Feb. 22, Hordes added.
The measure had 25 co-sponsors as of Tuesday, said Pamela Huey, deputy press secretary to Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), who is to introduce the bill along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
To try to gain support for the bill, the ADL is mailing the anti-Semitism study to all members of Congress, Hordes added.
The bill failed last year despite passage of a similar measure which created federal penalties of as high as $250,000 and 10-year jail sentences for religious vandalism.
Hordes said that 42 states and the District of Columbia have enacted either penalties for damage to religious property or to bias-related intimidation or harassment.
Of those, 33 have penalties for institutional vandalism and 31 for harassment. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have both, Hordes added.
Since 1981, the ADL has pushed for both measures to be enacted. It revised its model last year to include gathering of statistics on crimes motivated by hate and police awareness programs.
Eight states have adopted statistics-gathering measures: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The bill that would create a federal commission to investigate how Nazis entered the United States was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).