Wen Ho Lee/ John Lee
Xiaoxing Xi/ John Lee
As community members and organizations, we believe it is imperative to end the profiling of Asian Americans as national security threats, and we are committed to working towards a society free of racial discrimination and profiling against any people.
When any community, including the Asian American community, faces threats to their civil and constitutional rights, it must be a concern for all society. Racial, ethnic, and other forms of profiling are contrary to the fundamental values of a democracy, sow and exploit unfounded fears and stereotypes, and are counterproductive distractions from solutions to real problems. History and experience have demonstrated time and again that our nation is not made more safe or secure when it racially targets, scapegoats and marginalizes a group of individuals.
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice has intensified efforts to criminalize and prosecute Chinese American individuals for espionage related crimes. In separate cases, Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Sherry Chen, and Xiaoxing Xi were each wrongly arrested, and had their lives, and those of their families, painfully upended only to have all the charges against them dropped without explanation, apology, or redress. Almost 20 years ago, Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese American scientist, was also falsely accused of espionage, placed in solitary confinement for nine months, and upon his release from imprisonment, received an apology from the federal judge. In fact, racial profiling of Chinese Americans by the FBI dates back to the advent of the Cold War. For example, in the 1950s, Qian Xuesen, professor at Caltech and a founding director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was falsely accused by the U.S. government of being a communist. As a result, he was detained and placed under house arrest for five years, and eventually released and deported to China.
These incidents are regrettably part of a pattern of racial discrimination that have harmed Asian Americans for more than 150 years. From the Chinese Exclusion Act and other anti-Asian exclusion acts and the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII to the unjust FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service prosecution and deportation of Chinese Americans during the McCarthy era, to law enforcement targeting of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities post-9/11, Asian Americans have often been labeled and profiled as perpetual foreigners, spies, and threats to the national security of the U.S.
Today’s wrongful espionage prosecutions against Asian Americans must also be viewed and challenged alongside the broader foundation of racism and discrimination that fuels such injustices. Whether it is police violence against Black Americans, President Trump’s Muslim Ban, the demonization of undocumented immigrants and refugees, or anti-LGBTQ bigotry, discriminatory targeting of communities is wrong. Only through seeking justice for all who have been marginalized can such profiling be truly eliminated.
These principles guide our efforts to combat the racial profiling of Asian Americans:
Policies and practices advanced under the pretext of national security and safety must not racially profile any group of individuals;
In order to truly eliminate all forms of racial profiling, there has to be the recognition that different communities face different forms of discrimination;
Accountability and transparency are necessary to counter wrongful prosecutions and/or law enforcement abuses;
It is vital for the community to support affected individuals and their families as they fight wrongful accusations of espionage and disloyalty;
Community education and engagement are critical for empowering individuals to understand their rights and the historical and on-going forms of racial profiling and oppression;
Building bridges, solidarity and connecting efforts across Asian and non-Asian communities is critical to achieving a collective vision for social justice.
For more information about the founding organizations:
Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus: http://www.advancingjustice-alc.org/ Chinese for Affirmative Action: http://www.caasf.org/
Chinese Progressive Association: http://cpasf.org/
Know Your Rights when facing law enforcement, such as in the cases described above. Read and share the guides linked below to learn more. More information can be found on the "Legal Resources" page.
To report your experience, or for free, confidential legal assistance, please contact Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus attorney Christina Sinha at (415) 848-7733 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about our work, visit www.advancingjustice-alc.org