WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 11, 2015) — OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, in partnership with six Asian American advocacy groups, issued a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate a possible pattern of racial profiling against Chinese Americans in the wake of the Sherry Chen case. This effort is being led by the Committee of 100 and the National Council of Chinese Americans.
In October 2014, Sherry Chen was accused of espionage in her role as a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio. After being handcuffed and escorted away in front of her coworkers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation dropped their charges due to a lack of evidence and it has been suggested that the primary reason for her arrest was her ethnicity.
On Wednesday, it was reported by NBC Asian America that she was officially let go by the National Weather Service for “Conduct demonstrating untrustworthiness; Misrepresentation; Misuse of a Federal Database; and Lack of Candor.” This follows a series of similar cases where federal espionage charges against Chinese Americans have been dropped for insufficient evidence, including cases against Dr. Xiaoxing Xi whose charges were dropped this Wednesday, Guoqing Cao and Shuyi Li in 2013, and Dr. Wen Ho Lee in 1999.
“Race, ethnicity, and country of origin should never be an overwhelming factor of a prosecutor’s case. The humiliation that Chen, Cao, Li, Lee, and Xi suffered without sufficient evidence to even bring a case to court is unjust and echoes our nation’s long history of espionage cases against Asian Americans because of our race,” said OCA National President Michael W. Kwan. “The last thing we want is for a resurgence of ‘yellow peril’ to cast doubt upon the loyalty of Asian Americans in the United States, as was done to Chinese Americans with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Japanese Americans with forced internment during World War II.”
“We simply ask to be treated like any other American, for suspicions about an Asian American’s loyalty to be based on facts and evidence and not our appearance and national origin as it has been in the past. We ask for fair law enforcement practices that guarantee objective scrutiny and equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Constitution. We find it disheartening to hear that Sherry Chen was fired while waiting on administrative leave, but our organizations still hope we can right this wrong and work with the Justice Department to ensure that incidences like hers never happen again,” concluded Kwan.
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).