February 28, 2024

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Chinese Americans resist bans on real estate purchases

Chinese Americans resist bans on real estate purchases

Asian Americans are resisting what they see as discriminatory efforts to bar Chinese citizens from buying real estate in some states.

While supporters of these bills describe their policies as targeting the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party, Asian Americans and their advocates worry that the bills only fuel xenophobia and unfairly block access to the American dream.

The battle is heating up in Florida, where a new law targets Chinese citizens, and in other states, such as Texas, where similar bills have been proposed.

“These are Chinese Americans who came here to build a better life,” said Nabila Mansour, executive director of the Texas progressive group Rise AAPI, which helped organize against the Texas bill. “And what you say to them is that this is not good enough; we welcome you here with open arms, but we will not give you the same rights and privileges as anyone else.”

The state battles also come amid a broader battle over China’s ownership of US land, with former President Trump promising to push to ban China’s purchases of farmland and other critical infrastructure if he regains control of the White House, and various proposals on Capitol Hill to impose such restrictions. .

Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), another GOP presidential candidate, signed a law that makes it a crime to buy real estate in Florida for people “resident” in China unless they are US citizens or legal permanent residents. The Texas Senate in April passed a bill banning Chinese nationals and other foreign adversaries from buying real estate, with certain exceptions, though it died in the House of Representatives when the Texas legislative session ended Monday.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a similar bill in May, scaled back to focus on hostile governments before passing the Senate. Many other countries have passed or considered narrower bills that focus only on agricultural land or prohibit purchases by entities affiliated with the Chinese government. But broader bills in states like Texas and Florida have suffered particularly fierce setbacks.

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Four Floridians who are Chinese citizens, along with a Florida real estate company that primarily serves clients of Chinese descent, have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the new law, which is set to go into effect July 1.

The law allows people on a non-tourist visa or who have been granted asylum to purchase a single residential property of up to 2 acres in size, provided it is not within 5 miles of a military installation. However, the suit notes that there are many military outposts in Florida, many of which are located within 5 miles of major city centers such as Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Panama City, and Key West.

“Florida’s discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified, and unconstitutional,” Ashley Gorski, senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is helping represent the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Everyone in the United States is entitled to equal protection under our laws, including citizens of other countries.”

In response to Florida’s new law, CAPAC Group Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and CAPAC Housing Task Force Chair Al Green (D-Texas) have introduced legislation in Congress to preempt state laws that restrict individuals from purchasing real estate on a country-by-country basis. Nationality.

“Buying real estate — whether it’s a new home to call home or a commercial property to operate a business in — is a critical step for immigrant families, students, and refugees to realize the American Dream,” Chu said in a press release.

Supporters of the bills to restrict Chinese property purchases say they are necessary to protect national security.

“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active all over the Western Hemisphere gobbling up territory and investing in different things,” DeSantis said at a press conference in January. “It is not in Florida’s interest for the Chinese Communist Party to own farmland, and own land close to military bases.”

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In response to the criticism, the sponsor of the Texas bill, Sen. Lewis Colkhorst (R), softened the bill, which would have barred any citizen of China, Russia, Iran or North Korea from buying real estate in Texas. It added exemptions for US citizens, lawful permanent residents, and people who purchase a home as their primary residence.

Colkhorst said the new version “makes important clarifications, so the law targets agents of these hostile regimes while not harming innocent Texans in pursuit of the American dream.” New release.

However, critics say such exceptions are not enough.

“What if you had an organized immigrant on the path to becoming a US citizen?” Mansour asked. Can they buy real estate to start a business? No, they can’t. So this actually gets in the way of everything people say is important about the American dream.”

State Rep. Jin Wu (D-), a Texas legislator who opposed SB 147, said it could take years for people to get a green card, and even longer to become US citizens.

“These are legal immigrants,” Wu said. “These are the people who are here at the behest of the United States.”

“Sometimes, if they are business visa holders, we have asked them to be here, we have begged and flattered them and invited them to be here, to come to the US to invest money, do business, create jobs,” Wu added.

Wu added that Asian Americans who are not covered by the legislation could be affected if sellers are not sure if they are allowed to buy real estate.

“This is an open invitation to discriminate against Asian Americans,” he said.

Wu said the failure of SB 147 to pass — despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signaling his support early on — is evidence that rolling back such bills works.

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“I think it would be safe to say it didn’t work because of the overwhelming backlash from the Asian community,” he said.

Haibei Xu, president of United Chinese Americans, said Abbott helped rally this opposition par excellence Tweet in January Saying he will sign the bill.

Had Governor Abbott not tweeted on his Twitter account, many of us would not have known [about SB 147]Or at least not quite as quickly.

Xu said such laws unfairly equate Chinese immigrants with the Chinese government.

“You say you hate the CCP, but you love the Chinese, and then you turn around and make these laws, at least at the state levels, targeting a whole class of Chinese Americans or Chinese citizens who have nothing to do with the Chinese government,” he said.

For some Asian Americans, these laws harken back to America’s history of anti-Asian laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Foreign Land Laws, which denied Asian immigrants the ability to purchase land in certain states.

“We recognize that this type of attack is yet another recurrence of the same type of prejudice against Asian Americans that we experienced in the past,” Wu said.

“The only difference now is that our society is no longer willing to quietly tolerate this kind of active discrimination against our society.”

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