Advancing Justice | AAJC and Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus Seek FOIA Records from CBP

Organizations To Examine CBP’s Enforcement, Treatment, and Denial of Admissions to International Students
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144
Sabrina Chin (415) 848-7765

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on their policies leading to the denial of entry to the United States to students with connections to China. 

The two civil rights organizations submitted a FOIA in an effort to shed light on these policies and provide information to immigrant communities and the public about policy changes and visa revocations for particularly those individuals connected to China. The public has a strong interest in getting this information considering the government’s xenophobic and overzealous scrutiny and targeting of Chinese Americans and immigrants.

“The records sought by this FOIA request will significantly contribute to the public understanding of CBP’s enforcement, treatment, and denial of admission to students with connections to China,” said Megan Essaheb, Director of Immigration Advocacy at Advancing Justice | AAJC. “This information will be essential in ensuring that the profiling and scapegoating of Asian Americans and immigrants that has a long history in this country is not continued.” 

Since 2019, there have been reports of CBP denying admission to Chinese students while providing little to no explanation. In August 2019, CBP detained and denied admission to nine Arizona State University (ASU) students from China. ASU criticized CBP’s lack of transparency about why the students were detained and denied entry and expressed concern about CBP’s search of the student’s electronic devices. The incident with the nine ASU students is not in isolation. 

“The Trump administration continues to advance its xenophobic and white supremacist policies targeting immigrant communities and people of color. Part of this agenda is to cast all Chinese nationals and Chinese Americans as spies. In furtherance of this agenda, CBP has turned away international students with valid visas attempting to return to U.S. universities with no explanation or transparency,” said Javeria Jamil, staff attorney with the National Security and Civil Rights program at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus. “These denials highlight a serious need for transparency surrounding CBP's enforcement and admissions process for international students, especially those with connections to China.”

Advancing Justice | AAJC and Advancing Justice - ALC oppose any targeting or profiling of Chinese and international students based on race or national origin.