CAPAC Chair Statement on Sherry Chen’s Settlement with Department of Commerce

Nov 14, 2022 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – Last week, Ms. Sherry Chen, a National Weather Service hydrologist who was wrongfully accused of espionage, won a settlement of $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce for her wrongful prosecution and termination. Ms. Chen was unlawfully targeted by the Department’s now-eliminated Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) unit, which overwhelmingly targeted Chinese Americans for years, opening investigations without proper authorization or evidence. The settlement includes $550,000 from the Department of Commerce and an annuity from the U.S. government valued at $1.25 million over 10 years. Additionally, the Department of Commerce will host a private meeting between Ms. Chen and a senior National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) official, where she plans to discuss wrongdoing at multiple levels of the agency and the importance of anti-discrimination reforms. The Department will also provide Ms. Chen with a letter in acknowledgment of her extensive accomplishments and years of service as a government hydrologist.  CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) issued the following statement:

“It has been over a decade since Sherry Chen was accused of espionage, yet another Chinese American who was targeted because of their race, this time by the Department of Commerce’s rogue ITMS unit, which was disbanded last year, in part due to CAPAC’s advocacy. Even after the Department of Justice dropped all charges against her, when a federal administrative judge ruled her termination unlawful, Commerce chose to appeal the decision--an action which had been pending since 2018. CAPAC has been at the forefront of discrimination and profiling of Chinese American researchers, including by our own government agencies, and I have been closely following Ms. Chen’s case for years.  This historic settlement is a welcome symbol to restore justice to Ms. Chen, and I’m pleased that at long last, Ms. Chen’s ordeal has reached a fair conclusion.”