media@caasf.org or media@stopaapihate.org
September 20, 2023

Leading Asian American Organizations Unite to Demand Congress End Mass Warrantless Spying of Americans

Coalition of 52 organizations led by Asian American Scholar Forum, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Stop AAPI Hate calls for significant reforms to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Letter to Congress marks historic commitment from Asian American community to tackle unjust government surveillance

NATIONWIDE – A national coalition of 52 Asian American and allied organizations today issued a letter calling on Congress to oppose the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) unless it implements comprehensive reforms to end its misuse. Led by the Asian American Scholar Forum, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and Stop AAPI Hate, the coalition’s emergence is an unprecedented signal from Asian American communities that they will play a significant role in the fight to end mass warrantless spying on Americans enabled by FISA.

Section 702 grants intelligence agencies broad authority to collect the communications of foreigners abroad who use U.S. communications platforms. But as currently written and interpreted, it enables unfettered, warrantless, and discriminatory surveillance that encroaches on the privacy of everyday Americans in the U.S. and abroad. Recent revelations show that a litany of unlawful “backdoor” warrantless searches for Americans’ communications under Section 702 by government agents have been used for purposes unrelated to national security, including targeting of political activities and surveillance informed by racial animus

“Unjust government surveillance is a growing threat to all Americans’ freedom and civil liberties, and Asian Americans are no exception,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC. “An increasing number of government leaders are using geopolitical tensions with the Chinese government and other countries to justify mass spying, racial profiling, and discrimination of innocent people. Today, Asian American communities are showing up united in the fight to stop warrantless government surveillance practices. We must be invested in the fight to reform Section 702 of FISA because our privacy, our civil rights, and our civil liberties are at stake.”

“From the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II to the modern day unjust prosecutions of Chinese Americans and immigrants, our country has a centuries-long history of treating Asian Americans as ‘perpetual foreigners’ and unfairly scapegoating us as economic or national security threats,” said Gisela Kusakawa, Executive Director of Asian American Scholar Forum. “This enduring, harmful ‘perpetual foreigner’ narrative is now colliding with the current wave of anti-Asian xenophobia and bigotry — creating a dangerous environment in which Asian Americans are extraordinarily vulnerable to warrantless government surveillance and profiling. We need to reexamine the national security apparatus and broad surveillance authorities that have already led to unjust accusations, destroyed careers, and shattered lives — and will continue to do so unless we work towards lasting change, accountability, and appropriate safeguards for our communities.”

The coalition calls on Congress to enact the following reforms:

  • Require a warrant to access Americans’ communications: Congress should mandate the government to obtain a warrant before searching Section 702 data or other Fourth Amendment protected information.
  • Bolster judicial review of foreign intelligence surveillance: Reforms should be enacted to increase transparency and enhance the accuracy of the government’s submissions to the FISA Court, ensuring that the court can make informed decisions.
  • Place reasonable limits on the scope of surveillance: Congress should ensure that surveillance under Section 702 is specifically targeted at individuals reasonably likely to possess information of genuine intelligence value.

“Section 702 must undergo a comprehensive overhaul to protect the rights of Asian Americans and all citizens,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Without these reforms, Asian American communities will continue to feel unsafe and unwelcome in their own country. Our shared commitment to justice and equality demands that we address the systemic shortcomings within our national security programs and foreign intelligence surveillance authorities, ensuring that the principles of fairness and individual liberty prevail over prejudice and discrimination.”

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About Asian American Scholar Forum

Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) is a national non-profit that promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments and profiling in the U.S., AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. AASF membership includes members from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in addition to past and current university presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and past and current department chairs.

About Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

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. 

About Chinese for Affirmative Action

Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) was founded in 1969 to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. Today, CAA is a progressive voice in and on behalf of the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial and social injustice. To learn more, visit caasf.org

About Stop AAPI Hate

Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition addressing racism, discrimination and other forms of bigotry impacting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the U.S. The coalition was founded by AAPI Equity Alliance, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department in March 2020. To learn more, visit stopaapihate.org.

September 14, 2023

CAA Report: How Immigrant Voting Was Won and Why It Matters

CAA released a new report, Immigrant Voting and the Movement for Inclusion in San Francisco, which examines the fight to win immigrant voting legislation in San Francisco and how conservatives continue to threaten these rights through coordinated court challenges.
July 27, 2023

CAA Stands with Immigrant Parents’ Right to Vote Despite Ongoing Lawsuit

Today, the First District Court of Appeal will hear an ongoing lawsuit brought by James Lacy, challenging immigrant voting in San Francisco. This case, currently on appeal in California, has raised important questions about the principles of democracy, inclusivity, and civic participation.
January 24, 2023

CAA Demands Immediate Measures To Address the Gun Violence Epidemic in America

On Lunar New Year’s Eve, a mass shooting took the lives of 11 Asian Americans and injured another 10 at Star Dance Studio Ballroom in Monterey Park. Last night, another shooter took the lives of 7 and injured 1 in Half Moon Bay. We send our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives.
August 1, 2022

CAA, IPVC, and the SF Immigrant Rights Commission Strongly Disagree With the Court’s Decision Overturning Non-Citizen Voting

San Francisco: On Friday, the San Francisco Superior Court struck down San Francisco’s Ordinance 206-21, which gives immigrant parents the right to vote in school board elections. Non-citizen voting in San Francisco has been permissible through four election cycles until Republicans brought this lawsuit early this year with the sole purpose of disenfranchising immigrant parents.