Asian Americans Advancing Justice Submits Comment to the National Institutes of Health on the Racial Profiling of Asian Americans and Asian Immigrants

Asian Americans Advancing Justice submits comment to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) signed by over 220 organizations and individuals
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144
Mary Tablante 202-296-2300, ext. 0114
Chicago - Megan Singson
James Woo 404-585-8446

Asian Americans Advancing Justice submits comment to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) signed by over 220 organizations and individuals seeking concrete actions to address the racial profiling of scientists and researchers of Asian descent.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Asian Americans Advancing Justice submitted a comment to NIH raising concerns about the racial profiling of Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars, particularly those of Chinese descent, and urging the agency to take action in addressing NIH’s role in these efforts. Last month, NIH launched an open call to the public for comments on ways in which the agency can address structural racism and achieve racial equity in biomedical research. Over 220 community organizations, civil rights groups, science associations, academics, and concerned citizens signed on to the comment. Some of the signatories include people who have been directly impacted by government targeting and profiling. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent Asian American civil rights organizations, issued the following statement:

“We are deeply concerned about the government’s increased efforts to racially profile and target Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars in recent years,” said Gisela Perez Kusakawa, NAPABA Law Foundation Community Law Fellow at Advancing Justice | AAJC. “These activities of NIH are encouraging bias and suspicion in academic research institutions and have even ruined some careers.  This conduct combined with mass prosecutions by the FBI is having a broader chilling effect on Asian American and immigrant scientists by discouraging them from applying for federal grants or being listed as lead researchers on grant applications. Asian Americans are now living in the midst of the latest wave of resurgent xenophobia that is inextricably tied to this nation’s long history of discrimination against our communities.”

"Amid rising anti-Asian racism and violence, it is unconscionable that the government continues to target scientists and researchers of Chinese descent simply for who they are," said Glenn Katon, litigation director at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus. "We join with organizations across the country and people who have been directly targeted and call on NIH to end the longstanding practice of racial profiling and targeting in the research community."

Under the Department of Justice’s “China Initiative,” scientists, researchers, and scholars of Asian descent are facing mass investigations and unjust prosecutions  under the pretext of combating economic espionage. The White House mandate under the “China Initiative” pressured the FBI and NIH to heavily scrutinize Asian Americans and Asian immigrants. The FBI collaborated with NIH to conduct probes into researchers with 82% of those under investigation being of Asian descent. As a result, federal agencies have injected racial bias into our academic institutions encouraging staff to treat Asian American and immigrant scientists and researchers as suspects. NIH intervention and investigations have led to the dismissal, resignation, and termination of Asian scientists, contributing to a growing fear among Asian Americans and Asian immigrants of being targeted and scapegoated based on their race, ethnicity, and national origin. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice urges the NIH to address these concerns and listen to the many community members, civil rights organizations, science associations and impacted persons who support this comment. We call attention to the tremendous harm to Asian Americans and Asian immigrants in the scientific research environment and the broader community. We ask NIH to implement our recommendations, including minimizing entanglements with the FBI, providing clear guidelines, examining procedures to eliminate bias, and including the needs and concerns of Asian Americans in its efforts to address racial profiling and promote racial equity within NIH, NIH-supported institutions, and the greater scientific community.