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Advancing Justice – ALC and Advancing Justice – AAJC File Amicus Brief in Support of Professor Xiaoxing Xi’s Appeal

February 15, 2022 News

Media Contact: media@advancingjustice-alc.org

Advancing Justice – ALC and Advancing Justice – AAJC File Amicus Brief in Support of Professor Xiaoxing Xi’s Appeal

Asian American civil rights groups call for more government accountability over concerns of racial profiling of Asian Americans

PHILADELPHIA ― Amid increased concerns over the FBI’s and Justice Department’s targeting of scientists based on their Chinese descent, 72 Asian American organizations, civil rights groups, science associations, and academic groups filed an amicus brief in Xi v. Haugen, pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The brief calls on the U.S. government to end its discriminatory targeting and racial profiling of Asian Americans and Asian immigrants.

Advancing Justice - AAJC and Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus submitted the brief in support of Temple University Professor Xiaoxing Xi’s appeal to reinstate his claims for damages against the U.S. government for their discriminatory investigation and prosecution of charges that were later dismissed. In 2015, FBI agents entered Professor Xi’s home with a battering ram, pointed guns at him, his wife, and two daughters, and arrested him. The government falsely accused him of sharing sensitive technology for a pocket heater with scientists in China, for which he faced potentially 80 years in prison and $1 million in fines. The Justice Department dismissed the indictment after federal agents learned that they had misunderstood the technology, and that universities regularly encourage academics to share this legally protected information.

“It is a very difficult fight for me, my wife, and my daughter to hold the government accountable for the wrong they did to us,” said Professor Xiaoxing Xi, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physics at Temple University. “But we must do this because if they can violate our rights without any consequence, the lives of many more innocent people may be ruined like what happened to us. We will fight for as long as it takes, not just for ourselves, but for countless people who are being profiled by the Department of Justice because of their ethnicity or where they came from.”

“The U.S. government has an abysmal track record on the treatment of Asian American and immigrants and has often scapegoated our communities as national security threats,” said Gisela Kusakawa, Staff Attorney of Anti-Racial Profiling and Immigration at Advancing Justice - AAJC. “This has worsened under the Justice Department’s controversial ‘China Initiative,’ which has driven federal prosecutors and FBI agents to target Asian American and immigrant scientists based on their ethnicity. It’s time to end racial profiling starting with terminating this initiative now.”

The Asian American community, along with civil rights and academic groups, are standing in solidarity with Professor Xi and his family in calling for government accountability for this injustice in their appeal after a federal district court dismissed nine of Professor Xi’s ten claims. Professor Xi is one of many Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists across the country who was unjustly targeted and profiled by the federal government and law enforcement. As our communities continue to fight back against systemic racism and anti-Asian hate, we must hold the government accountable to ensure justice is rendered to Professor Xi, his family, and many others.

“By targeting scientists for investigation based on their ancestry rather than evidence of crime and naming the China Initiative after those practices, the FBI and Justice Department perpetuate insidious stereotypes of Asian Americans as disloyal and inherently suspect,” noted Glenn Katon, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. “Those FBI and Justice Department practices also divert resources from investigating real dangers to our communities.”

The amicus brief addresses the widespread prevalence of racial discrimination and profiling against Asian Americans and immigrants, particularly scientists and academics of Chinese descent in the last decade, when Professor Xi was subjected to racially motivated actions alleged in his Complaint. That context reveals racial bias against persons of Chinese descent which has permeated federal agencies and influenced FBI training, investigations, and prosecutions, traumatizing families and undermining the credibility of our institutions.

“The government’s wrongful prosecution of Professor Xi had devastating consequences for him and his family. Years later, they are still dealing with the trauma of this ordeal,” said Ashley Gorski, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “If the Xis are unable to hold the government accountable, there will be little to stop the government from profiling other Asian American scientists and upending more lives as a result.”

Read the brief.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Advancing Justice - AAJC launched the Anti-Racial Profiling Project in October 2020 to offer resources and legal referrals for those impacted by the U.S. government’s increased efforts to target and profile Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists and researchers, particularly of Chinese descent.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - ALC was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization focusing on the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recognizing that social, economic, political, and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society.