Multiple Asian American groups are challenging Republican-led states for laws passed to ban affiliates of the Chinese Communist Party from buying property, according to court records and public statements.
The laws, which have been enacted in Florida and Alabama and are being considered by Texas, prevent foreign nationals from purchasing land that is close to a U.S. military installation, or near a location that would otherwise affect national or state security. Plaintiffs suing states over these laws argue that the bans amount to unlawful discrimination. (RELATED: Suspected Chinese Spies Posing As Tourists Are Trying To Infiltrate US Military Bases: REPORT)
“Florida’s discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified and unconstitutional,” said Ashley Gorski, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, speaking about SB 264, a law that bans non-U.S. nationals domiciled in China from buying property in the state. Gorski is suing the state in federal court on behalf of four plaintiffs, all Chinese citizens, who will be forced to cancel property purchases when the law takes effect on July 1, according to their complaint.
The law contains an exception for Chinese nationals holding a non-tourist visa or asylum status, who can buy up to two acres of land that isn’t within five miles of a military installation, according to the law. It also bans non-U.S. nationals domiciled in Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela or Syria from buying property within 10 miles of a military base, though they may purchase land elsewhere in Florida.
“All Asian Americans will feel the stigma and the chilling effect created by this Florida law, just like the discriminatory laws did to our ancestors more than a hundred years ago,” said Clay Zhu of the Chinese American Legal Defense Association, a party to the suit. In response, Democratic Rep. Judy Chu of California – who has received attention for contacts she has with CCP operatives – introduced legislation in the House to pre-empt Florida’s law.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the law, saying that “[i]f you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things,” he noted in January, per the Hill, adding that it is “not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) owning farmland, owning land close to military bases.”
Alabama, as well, has enacted restrictions, with Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signing on Wednesday the “Alabama Property Protection Act,” which bans members of certain foreign governments from owning land in the state. “The simple fact of the matter is that foreign governments have no business owning land in Alabama…it will never be the case,” Ivey said, with the law now open to challenge upon enactment.
In Texas, activists pushed back against SB 147, a proposed law that would ban citizens of China, Iran, North Korea or Russia from buying land in the state, which didn’t pass before the legislative session ended, though Gov. Greg Abbott said he would sign it. It was “targeting a whole class of Chinese Americans or Chinese nationals who have nothing to do with the Chinese government,” said Haipei Shue, president of United Chinese Americans.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the ACLU did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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