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Congressman Jamie Raskin

Representing the 8th District of Maryland

Raskin Voices Concern About Racial Profiling of Chinese Americans

August 16, 2019
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) met with Maryland State Senator Susan C. Lee and prominent Chinese and Asian American community leaders to express their shared concerns about the racial profiling of Chinese American scientists and scholars by federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The leaders discussed the profiling of U.S. citizens Sherry Chen and Dr. Xioaxing Xi, two Chinese American scientists wrongfully accused of espionage by the FBI.

Dr. Xi, Chairman of the Temple University Physics Department, was arrested for allegedly sending restricted superconductor technology to China. Although all charges were later dropped as the technology was in fact unrestricted, Dr. Xi resigned his Chairman duties and was placed on administrative leave. Chen, a National Weather Service hydrologist, was handcuffed in front of her colleagues and arrested on espionage charges by the FBI. Although all charges were later dropped, she still has not gotten her job back. Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that, in coordination with the FBI, it had contacted 61 research institutions about suspected diversion of proprietary information and has referred 16 cases to the FBI for undisclosed ties to foreign governments.

“I'm delighted that Congressman Ed Case's amendment addressing the racial profiling of Chinese Americans was included in the Intelligence Authorization Act that passed the House last month," said Congressman Raskin. "I was a proud cosponsor of this Amendment because race, ethnicity and national origin should never be the basis for criminal suspicion and law enforcement in America. While we must take seriously any national security threats posed by other governments, we must strongly reject any policy or practice which casts suspicion and guilt based upon Chinese or Asian lineage. This kind of law enforcement threatens to take us back to some of the darkest moments in our history involving the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese American Internment. Let's stay committed to due process and absolute fairness in law enforcement." 

“We are concerned that the increased toxic rhetoric and environment have contributed to the perception that simply being of Chinese or Asian descent or having any ties to China make that person prone to espionage," stated Maryland State Senator Susan C. Lee. "Many of our hardworking and dedicated scientists and scholars who have made breakthrough contributions to America, are now confused and fearful of being unfairly profiled, singled out, and having their careers and lives destroyed. While we support efforts to safeguard America's interests and prosecute wrongdoers, we don't want an entire ethnic group being stereotyped or placed under suspicion.” 

Additional community leaders in the meeting with Rep. Raskin and Senator Susan C. Lee were: Stan Tsai, Dr. Paul Li, Dr. Bei Ma, retired Judge Chung Pak, and Matthew Lee. In addition to meeting with Rep. Raskin, they also met with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

"It was a privilege to meet with Chinese American leaders to discuss ways to combat bias and ensure an inclusive community and country," said Senator Van Hollen. "While the government of the People's Republic of China poses an espionage threat to the United States, we cannot close our doors to engagement with the Chinese people or treat Chinese Americans with unjustified suspicion. I look forward to working with them to support the Chinese American community, protect Constitutional rights, and ensure due process.” 

"We commend and are grateful to Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Raskin for championing and being on top of probably one of the most serious issues confronting our community,” said Stan Tsai. 

"This profiling also puts a chilling effect on the participation not only by our community, but also, most importantly, by those talented scientists who have devoted a lifetime to developing lifesaving and quality of life innovations on behalf of America," Dr. Paul Li contended. 

“This will surely have a long lasting impact and damage America's ability to attract the best and brightest scientists and maintain its role as a leader in science and technology," added Matthew Lee. 

"Our world has benefitted from scientific advancements being born out of international cooperation and exchange that were before being encouraged and promoted by some of these institutions but are now being penalized," Dr. Bei Ma reflected. "We hope that this does not suppress technological and scientific breakthroughs that can help countless globally." 

The leaders urged adequate government oversight, transparency, fairness, and accountability to counter the unjust racial profiling of Chinese American scientists and scholars.  

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