Across the country, Chinese and other Asian Americans are pushing back against laws that ban them from buying property.
In Florida, a property law is set to go into effect on July 1. It prohibits people from a “foreign country of concern” from buying commercial or residential property in the state. The countries listed as "concerns" are China, Cuba, Iran, Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.
A bill in the Texas State Senate also gained traction after its introduction in December. It would have barred Chinese citizens from purchasing any form of property within the state, residential or commercial. Residents from North Korea, Iran, and Russia would have been impacted under the law, with no exceptions for legal permanent residents, visa holders, or dual citizens. The Texas House of Representatives was unable to pass the bill before their session ended.
The Alabama House passed a similar bill in May, with several other states now considering comparable laws. Many only focus on agricultural land or banning purchases by entities explicitly affiliated with the Chinese government.
Several Chinese citizens are currently suing the state of Florida over their law, hoping to stop it before it goes into effect. In tandem with the ACLU, they argued that the law "imposes especially draconian restrictions on people from China," and “stigmatizes them and their communities, and casts a cloud of suspicion over anyone of Chinese descent who seeks to buy property in Florida.”
Policies from past centuries such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Alien Land Law, which prevented those of Asian decent from immigrating to the United States and prevented them from owning property, have since been declared unconstitutional. Many were struck down in the 1950s after a Supreme Court ruling. Activists hope that the new laws will be struck down under that precedent.
"This law is unconstitutional," the Florida suit reads. "It violates the equal protection and due process guarantees under the U.S. Constitution; it intrudes on the federal government’s power to superintend foreign affairs, foreign investment, and national security; and it recalls the wrongful animus of similar state laws from decades past — laws that were eventually struck down by courts or repealed by legislatures."