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Statement on the SECURE CAMPUS Act

Kit Canlas, API Middle TN Board President

On May 27th, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), and Congressman David Kustoff (R-Tennessee) announced legislation that would prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the United States for graduate or postgraduate studies in STEM fields. The legislation, known as the SECURE CAMPUS Act, would also place restrictions on participants in Chinese foreign talent-recruitment programs, and require universities, labs, and research institutes with federal funding to attest that they will not knowingly employ participants in China's foreign talent recruitment programs.

The basis for this legislation is rooted in uncited claims that the United States risks espionage by allowing free exchange of ideas with Chinese STEM students. There is no other name for this legislation except racism. A ban on any person purely based on their ethnic origin, regardless of behavior or actions they as human beings have demonstrated or not demonstrated, is racism. This is not new for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and we are disappointed that as a country, we have not learned from our previous acts of racism. The most obvious comparison is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Have we not advanced our thinking since 1882? Where is the data that shows how many Chinese STEM students have put our national security at risk? How many Chinese STEM students have contributed positively to American STEM research?

In addition to the racist basis of this potential ban, this messaging will have the added impact of putting Asian Americans at risk for more hate crimes and discrimination that have been on the rise since COVID-19. The SECURE CAMPUS Act condones judging a person purely based on their ethnic origin, which people often assume based on the color of their skin. Asian Pacific Islanders of Middle Tennessee urges rescindment of this fear mongering legislation which presumes that all Chinese STEM students are spies. In this time of dire civil unrest, we need leadership committed to unifying the American people, which includes banning legislation that incites racial profiling and academic discrimination.


Please take a second and contact your senators to let them know your thoughts on the SECURE CAMPUS Act.

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