August 20, 2020
(Kansas City, KS) – Advancing Justice – AAJC and Advancing Justice – ALC filed an amicus brief today in United States v. Tao, providing significant evidence of racial profiling against Asian American and immigrant scientists and researchers.
The two Asian American civil rights organizations submitted the brief in support of Dr. Feng “Franklin” Tao to show opposition to the government’s increased efforts to profile and target Chinese American scientists and researchers based on ethnicity under the pretext of ferreting out economic espionage. In United States v. Tao, Dr. Tao, a tenured engineering professor at the University of Kansas, is fighting criminal allegations for not disclosing to the University an alleged affiliation with a university in China.
“Failure to disclose information on a university form is not economic espionage,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Advancing Justice – AAJC. “Xenophobia from leadership and agents within the U.S. government has translated to real consequences for the Chinese and Asian American community. Chinese scientists and researchers, like Dr. Tao, are caught in the Department of Justice’s broad net for prosecutions and sudden criminalization of minor infractions and we are deeply concerned with the pattern of misguided suspicion and racial discrimination we are seeing in these cases.
The government has been mounting a broad campaign scrutinizing and targeting Chinese American scientists and researchers through the China Initiative. Fueled by xenophobia, the China Initiative was adopted by the Department of Justice in 2018 for the purported purpose of combating economic espionage. The China Initiative is part of the latest wave of xenophobia against Chinese and Asian Americans and follows a long history of Asian Americans and immigrants being criminalized, stereotyped as “perpetual foreigners,” scapegoated, and profiled as spies disloyal to the United States.
“The government is targeting people of Chinese descent for investigation without evidence of wrongdoing,” noted Glenn Katon, litigation director at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and former Department of Justice trial attorney. “Bringing dubious charges against people like Dr. Tao, for conduct the government would not have known or cared about but for the China Initiative, is discriminatory and a waste of resources.”
We have seen a surge in prosecutions as the government increases pressure on academic institutions to criminalize previously administrative issues and federal agencies to increase prosecution efforts across the country. Data and individual cases of wrongful arrests and prosecutions along with biased rhetoric from public officials reveal that racial bias exists in the charging, prosecution, and sentencing of Chinese, Asian Americans, and immigrants.
The amicus brief addresses the government’s broad campaign to scrutinize and target Chinese American scientists and researchers and discusses how the government’s xenophobic and overzealous prosecutions does real harm to the individual lives of Chinese and Asian Americans and immigrant communities.
Read the brief here.