CAPAC Calls on Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to Examine Ethnic Profiling Practices

Sep 14, 2015 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, DC - Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) called upon the U.S. Department of Justice  (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate a pattern of cases in which U.S. citizens of Asian descent have been wrongfully arrested or charged with alleged espionage.

On Friday, the Department of Justice dropped all charges against Dr. Xi Xiaoxing of Temple University, but not before storming his house with guns drawn, arresting him as he was taken away from his family in handcuffs, accusing him of being a spy for China, and causing humiliation when his title of Chair of the Physics Department was taken away.

CAPAC Members released the following statements:

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

“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am deeply troubled by what appears to be a growing pattern of Chinese American employees being targeted and charged of spying and economic espionage, only to have those charges later dropped.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

“Just last week, the Department of Justice dropped all of its charges against Temple University professor Xi Xiaoxing, who was accused of sharing sensitive U.S. technology with China.  This comes just months after charges were dropped against another Chinese American, Sherry Chen, who had also been accused of spying for China.  These incidents are eerily reminiscent of the case of Chinese American scientist Wen Ho Lee, who was charged with 59 counts of espionage, fired from his job, taken to jail, and held in solitary confinement only to have 58 of the charges later dropped.

“This practice breeds suspicion of Chinese Americans, and begs the question of whether federal prosecutors are indicting innocent Americans based on race or ethnicity rather than concrete evidence.  I call upon the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to reexamine their practices.  We have asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to meet with CAPAC immediately to address our concerns.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:

“As a leader, the United States must set a good example for the rest of the world that highlights what we all know to be true: No person should be mistreated or targeted simply because of his or her ethnicity.  Our Constitution guarantees the same rights to all citizens and the full protection of the law.

“My own family was subject to internment, a dark period of our country's history.  The federal government did what was right by acknowledging and apologizing for those actions.  We cannot return to the xenophobic mistakes of the past.

“We now see a recurring theme of false allegations being placed on patriotic, law-abiding American citizens of Chinese descent.  A person’s ethnicity should never be sufficient justification for charges or suspicions being brought upon them; therefore, I call on the Department of Justice and law enforcement to delve into their practices to ensure that their findings are solely based on merit.  Our nation should view our diversity as an integral quality to celebrate, not use our differences to divide and target one another.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33):

“I call upon the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate what appears to be a pattern of arresting and indicting Americans based on their ethnicity rather than the evidence.  There have been multiple cases of Americans—who happen to be of Chinese ethnicity—being arrested and charged for alleged spying or economic espionage, only to have those charges dropped.

“I will be sending a letter requesting the DOJ to investigate what appears to now be a pattern and practice of some federal prosecutors indicting Americans based primarily on race or ethnicity.  I will also request the FBI to investigate whether some of its agents are engaging in a pattern or practice of arresting Americans based primarily on race, ethnicity, or other civil rights classifications.

“If it was just one case in which federal officials arrest and indict an American for spying or espionage and then drop all charges, perhaps that can be called a mistake.  But when it is multiple cases—all linked by the same fact that the Americans happened to be of Chinese ethnicity—then we have a constitutional and civil rights problem.  Otherwise innocent actions do not become nefarious simply because the Americans taking those actions happened to have ethnic surnames.” 

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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.