Asian American Scholar Forum Raises Concerns Around Increased Airport Enforcement and Border Harassment 


February 2, 2023

Media Contact: Mary Tablante, Asian American Scholar Forum,

Washington, D.C.— Asian American Scholar Forum is raising concerns after hearing about multiple incidents of Chinese American scientists, academics, and scholars being harassed or interrogated at ports of entry. Community members are concerned that these stops are based on their background or ethnicity. 

These incidents involved U.S. citizens who are of Chinese descent or their family members who have been interrogated for hours. These types of incidents raise questions and fear within the community. Many Chinese American scientists and academics are concerned about being targeted and surveilled without them knowing. They can tell from their experiences that they are treated differently than their peers, and often the things they cannot change like their identity and their natural connections to China like having family members make them easy targets.

“These incidents did not happen in isolation,” said Executive Director Gisela Perez Kusakawa. “These are one of many stories that the community is aware of that cements the perspective for Asian Americans, especially Chinese American scientists, researchers, and scholars that they can attend the same events as their peers, do the same work, and try to do everything right, but they can still find themselves subjected to heightened scrutiny, investigation, and surveillance. It is unfortunate that they are fundamentally going to be treated differently, be perceived as less loyal, and as perpetual foreigners in a country that they have contributed tremendously to, built a home in, and raised their children.”

Based on calls from the community, we will host a Know Your Rights session this evening, Feb. 2, 2023 at 8:00 pm ET when it comes to ports of entry, specifically airports. This session features immigration, national security, and criminal law experts who will share crucial know-your-rights information when you are stopped and interrogated at the airport. AASF has also supported Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Access to Counsel Act, which would ensure that we cannot deny the right to counsel at the border. We will continue to monitor the situation and climate and propose solutions that will most help the community.


Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all and represents more than 7,000 scientists, researchers, and scholars in the U.S.. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments in the U.S. and increasing profiling of Chinese Americans and immigrants in science, AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars.

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