CAPAC Applauds U.S. Merit Protection Board Decision in Sherry Chen Case

Apr 26, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements in response to a U.S. Merit Protection Board (MSPB) decision that brought justice to Chinese American hydrologist Sherry Chen, who was terminated from her position with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2016 after being falsely accused of committing espionage. The judge in this case ruled that Ms. Chen was the “victim of a gross injustice” and should have her employment reinstated by the Department of Commerce.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“I applaud the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board’s ruling in favor of Sherry Chen and commend Sherry for her successful efforts to combat the discrimination she faced in the workplace. Unfortunately, there have been multiple cases in which Chinese American scientists like Sherry have been wrongfully targeted and arrested for alleged espionage only to have those charges dropped with no explanation. That is why CAPAC has made it a top priority to urge the Department of Justice to examine whether there is a pattern or practice of Asian Americans being singled out by federal law enforcement and prosecutors for espionage. And we will also be calling on the Department of Commerce Inspector General to conduct an investigation into the handling of Sherry’s case. No American should have to live in fear that their entire lives may be turned upside down due to wrongful accusations and unwarranted racial profiling. There is no room for this sort of prejudice in our federal government or in our country.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“I commend the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and Judge Schroeder for ruling in favor of Sherry Chen and recommending her employment be reinstated by the Department of Commerce. As we have seen over the years, multiple Americans who happened to be of Asian descent—including Sherry Chen—have been arrested and indicted for alleged espionage only to have all the charges dropped. I worked on this case last year and helped cause the Department of Justice to change its policies to help make sure Chinese-Americans are not targeted by law enforcement because of their ethnicity. It’s clear that Sherry Chen was the victim of gross injustice and unwarranted racial profiling during her time at the Department. I’m calling on the IG to immediately open an investigation into this wrongdoing so that it does not happen to our fellow Americans again.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC Executive Board Member:

“I’m thrilled that Sherry Chen was finally successful in appealing her termination from the Department of Commerce. The Merit Systems Protection Board agreed that Sherry was the ‘victim of gross injustice’ and that the Department of Commerce should reinstate her employment. This is great news for Sherry and should give confidence to Asian Americans, and Chinese Americans in particular, that the justice system can work. Sherry was falsely accused of being a Chinese spy which led to years of emotional and professional distress. No American should fear that they may be targeted by the federal government because of their ethnicity. I hope the Department of Commerce will reinstate Sherry soon.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.