Washington, D.C. (May 25, 2016) — The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) on Thursday adopted language requesting the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to investigate whether there exists a pattern or practice of using race, national origin, and other civil rights classifications to target Federal employees and other Americans.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) pushed for the language following recent high-profile arrests of Chinese-American scientists wrongfully accused of espionage only to have those charges later dropped. The amendment, offered by Rep. Mike Honda, the Ranking Member of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, was adopted by voice vote and included into the CJS Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2017. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “I am so pleased that the Appropriations Committee heard and responded to our serious concerns about racial profiling by federal investigators and prosecutors. When I first heard the stories of Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Sherry Chen, and Xiaoxing Xi – each of whom was accused of espionage-related crimes only to have all charges against them later dropped with no explanation – I was chilled, as were many other Chinese-Americans who worry their race alone may make them suspect next. This is why as Chair of CAPAC, I made securing an independent investigation of recent espionage cases a priority. And along with my fellow CAPAC members, I urged the Appropriations Committee to include report language that requests this of the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General. We thank Rep. Mike Honda, the top Democrat on the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee and Chair Emeritus of CAPAC, for working to include our ask to assess whether patterns or practices of racial profiling exist within the Department of Justice. This clarity is needed to assure our communities that profiling is not acceptable and that e-mailing while Chinese is not a crime.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to pass an amendment to ensure accountability in these cases. Injustice like that faced by Professor Xi and Sherry Chen must never happen again. No one in our Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities should be made to feel foreign or be suspected to be the enemy by their own government without cause.”
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33): “I am pleased that language to address racial profiling that I have been pushing for has been included in today’s markup. I commend Ranking Member Mike Honda, an iconic champion of Asian American and Pacific Islander civil rights, for his tireless work in addressing a deeply troubling issue impacting the AAPI community. Allegations of racial profiling should never be dismissed without investigation, and I support the Committee’s call for the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to provide a detailed assessment to Congress of recent cases involving the unjust targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
On May 13, CAPAC sent a letter to the DOJ Office of Inspector General demanding an independent investigation into whether race, ethnicity, or national origin played a part in recent cases in which Chinese Americans were suspected of espionage. The letter comes after similar requests were made in a previous letter and during a CAPAC meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in November 2015.
The language included in the FY’17 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill is as follows:
The Committee has heard concerns that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been profiled by Department of Justice investigators and prosecutors on the basis of race and national origin, including in espionage and trade secret cases. The Committee expects the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General to assess whether there exists a pattern or practice of using race, national origin, and other civil rights classifications to target Federal employees and other Americans; report on any allegations of civil rights or civil liberties violations committed by DOJ employees in its semiannual reports to Congress as required by Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107–56); and if such patterns or practices are found to exist, to describe steps the Department has taken to address them.
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.