Civil Rights Fellow


Posted: June 17, 2021



Based in San Francisco, CA 

Temporary, Exempt, Temporarily Remote, Full-time Position, 

18-month position with possibility of extension

Please Apply By July 23, 2021


The Opportunity

Our Civil Rights Fellow will lead the Asian Law Caucus’s effort to stop the federal government’s targeting of scientists of Chinese descent for investigation based on their ancestry rather than evidence of wrongdoing.

While the Trump administration created a task force targeting scientists of Chinese ancestry and called the program the “China Initiative,” the FBI has been targeting such scientists for decades, going back to at least the 1960s. The Asian Law Caucus is committed to protecting communities from unlawful government investigations and prosecutions based on their national origin or ethnicity. Many such prosecutions of Chinese scientists have been high profile, such as Wen Ho Lee, Sherry Chen, and Xiaoxing Xi. Many more have not.

The Civil Rights Fellow working on this project will primarily collect and compile information showing how the federal government targets people of Chinese descent for investigation based on their ancestry, under the auspices of combating economic and national security espionage. The ways in which the Fellow documents the government’s methods of targeting scientists of Chinese descent will be refined as information is collected through the course of the fellowship.

The Organization

Advancing Justice – ALC is the nation’s first legal organization focusing on advancing and defending the civil rights of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (APIs); in the aftermath of 9/11, Advancing Justice-ALC has worked to protect the civil rights of AMEMSA communities. Since 1972, Advancing Justice – ALC has litigated high-profile civil rights cases, advocated for the passage of landmark policy changes, and provided an array of services, including community education, advocacy, and direct client representation to further the rights of low-income immigrants and communities of color. Current program areas include National Security & Civil Rights, Workers’ Rights, Immigrant Rights, Housing Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, and Voting Rights. A growing staff of 49 provides strong collegial support and opportunities to learn about and collaborate with other program areas. Advancing Justice-ALC adopts a unique approach of empowering and working with local communities to challenge national policies and practices. Applicants seeking to ground their impact work within affected communities would be a good fit. Advancing Justice – ALC is based in San Francisco, a hub of the Asian American rights movement, progressive politics, and social justice activism. Its location in Chinatown is the first mixed-use, affordable housing co-op in San Francisco, serving as a model for preserving affordable housing in the city and protecting tenants’ rights.


The Fellow’s efforts will include:

  • Creating a complete list of cases brought under the China Initiative and that otherwise appear to have been initiated by targeting people of Chinese ancestry;
  • Documenting the ways the government targets scientists of Chinese descent through review of trial materials and criminal case files, FOIA requests to the federal government, state public records requests to universities, and interviews with defense attorneys;
  • Conferring with defense attorneys, former prosecutors, scholars, and others to obtain a thorough understanding of the significance of the information collected to shed light on the ways the government targets scientists of Chinese descent; and
  • Assisting the National Security & Civil Rights program manager and staff attorneys with legal research and advocacy as a part of their ongoing work against federal policing and surveillance programs, including the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the DHS’s Countering Violent Extremism program, and statewide advocacy related to such programs

The Fellow will also research legal theories that apply to the government’s targeting, such as equal protection, selective investigation, and selective prosecution.

The fellowship will likely also involve developing and implementing advocacy strategies for using the information collected to address the targeting of scientists of Chinese descent based on their ancestry rather than evidence of criminal conduct.


Demonstrated commitment to civil rights, excellent writing and verbal communication skills, JD and/or other relevant graduate degree. Relevant work experience may substitute for a graduate degree in exceptional circumstances. 

Preferred qualifications 

Experience in public policy, federal criminal practice, FOIA and state public records laws, familiarity with PACER, Excel, Clio, ability to work both independently and collaboratively, proficiency in Mandarin.

Compensation and Benefits 

This is a full-time, exempt temporary position. Compensation is based on our salary scale, which accounts for years of relevant experience and principles of internal equity. Terms of this position may be governed by the terms of a union contract. ALC offers a generous benefits package. 

Application Process

Interested candidates should submit via email to (as PDF attachments), including the following:

  1. Cover letter explaining your interest in the position
  2. Resume
  3. A writing sample of your work (no more than 10 pages)
  4. Three professional references

Please indicate “Civil Rights Fellow” in the subject line. Please Apply By July 23, 2021.

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified persons are encouraged to apply, regardless of race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, HIV status, height, weight, marital or domestic partner status, or religious affiliation.


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