CAPAC Members Demand Independent Investigation Into Cases Targeting Asian Americans

May 13, 2016 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, DC – Today, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz demanding an independent investigation into whether race, ethnicity, or national origin played a part in recent cases in which Asian Americans have been wrongfully arrested and indicted for alleged espionage. This letter comes after similar requests were made in a previous letter and during a CAPAC meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in November 2015. CAPAC leaders released the following statements:

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

“Justice delayed is justice denied. In the cases of Sherry Chen, Xiaoxing Xi, Guoqing Cao, and Shuyu Li, each were accused of espionage-related crimes only to have all charges against them later dropped. Their lives were turned upside down simply because they were emailing while being Asian American. And yet the public is still being denied any investigation explaining why there appears to be a pattern of singling out Asian Americans by federal law enforcement. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I demand that the Department of Justice launch a full, independent investigation into the cases of these wrongfully charged individuals. I also look forward to hearing directly from Attorney General Lynch regarding DOJ’s new policy to provide greater oversight on espionage-related cases, and the Department’s plans to avoid such egregious missteps in the future.”

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

“For too long, Americans have been accused of espionage by our government on the basis of their heritage, not any finding of fact,” said Honda. “I applaud the Justice Department taking a good first step to making certain that never happens again by announcing their oversight policy regarding national security related prosecutions. However, too many have still been hurt by these cases in the past. Along with my colleagues, I am calling on the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to investigate these potential miscarriages of justice or any systemic bias in the cases the federal government decides to pursue.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33):

“The lives of Chinese American scientists Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Sherry Chen, and Xiaoxing Xi were derailed, if not forever harmed, by the erroneous charges of espionage brought against them.  As a result, I was pleased by the DOJ’s announcement of a new oversight policy when it comes to national security related cases.  However, this new policy is only a single step forward in a larger, fierce and urgent mission to see that justice is done, particularly in the cases of these four citizens.  To that end, the U.S. Inspector General must launch an independent investigation with the ultimate goal of finding solutions to prevent any more cases where honest, hardworking Americans are wrongly targeted on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or national origin.”


Late last month, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new rules to require an extra level of oversight when investigating cases of espionage. In addition to meeting with DOJ Attorney General Loretta Lynch last fall, CAPAC Members have questioned government officials during congressional oversight hearings.  Earlier today, Rep. Ted Lieu, in his role as a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned the National Counterintelligence Executive at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the targeting of Asian Americans. Earlier this year, Rep. Michael Honda, in his role as the Ranking Member of the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, advocated for a change in the behavior of the Justice Department when questioning Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Comey about the cases of Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi.  CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu, in her role as a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, also questioned FBI Director Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on these matters.


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.