CAPAC Members on Rubio and Wray’s Remarks Singling Out Chinese Students as National Security Threats

Feb 15, 2018 Issues: Civil Rights

Washington, D.C.— During a February 13th Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Senator Marco Rubio and FBI Director Chris Wray singled out Chinese students and scholars as a national security threat to the United States. During the exchange, Senator Rubio asked, “What…is the counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. National Security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in the sciences and mathematics?” Director Wray responded that Chinese students and scholars pose a national security threat that requires “a whole-of-society response by us.” CAPAC Members released the following statements in response to these comments:
 
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
 
“There is no doubt that we must take espionage threats from foreign countries seriously. However, Senator Rubio’s leading question and FBI Director Wray’s sweepingly broad response were completely irresponsible generalizations that attempt to paint all Chinese students and scholars as spies for China. I condemn these remarks entirely and reject these dangerous attempts to build a case that Chinese students, professors, and scholars should be viewed with more suspicion than others.  
 
“Unfortunately, the growing perception that simply being of Asian ancestry or having ties to China makes you prone to espionage has created a culture of fear that has negatively impacted the Asian American community. We need to look no further than the examples of Sherry Chen and Dr. Xioaxing Xi, two Chinese American scientists who were wrongfully accused of espionage by the FBI only to have their charges dropped with no explanation. This caused irreparable harm to their careers, reputations, and lives, and many Asian American students, scientists, and scholars now fear that they may be subjected to the same discrimination.  
 
“Our nation’s highest law enforcement officials should not condone profiling that encourages individuals to view all Chinese and Chinese Americans with more suspicion. If the FBI is acting under the assumption that simply being Chinese makes one a unique national security threat, that is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately. There is no room for this sort of prejudice in our country’s laws or practices.”
 
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

 
“There are certain policies and actions by our government that, while directed at foreign nationals, could affect Americans who happen to be of certain ethnicities.  In this case, tarring Chinese foreign national students en masse as being more suspicious is overbroad and will also feed into the false and harmful narrative that somehow Chinese-Americans are more suspicious.  It is this false narrative that contributed to the wrongful indictments of Chinese-Americans like Sherry Chen and Professor Xiaoxing Xi.  I worked on those cases 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.
 
“I called on FBI Director Wray to clarify his comments and make a strong statement that Chinese-Americans are not viewed by the FBI as any more suspicious than any other American.
 
“I also have a suggestion for the Trump Administration. Before spending a lot of time and resources looking at foreign nationals allegedly getting publicly available information, perhaps the Administration should first crack down on the over 130 Americans in the White House who still don’t have permanent security clearances and are inappropriately viewing highly classified non-public information.”
 
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):
 
“I strongly condemn comments made by the Trump Administration's FBI Director Christopher Wray that racially profile international students from China. The intelligence community, rightfully, should always be concerned about foreign nationals who have access to our most sensitive secrets. That, however, never excuses an attempt to categorize an entire group of people as a threat to our national security. This narrative is unfortunately not new, and should not be perpetuated by our country's highest law enforcement officials.”

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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.