A bill in the Texas State Senate has gained traction since its introduction in December, but Chinese Americans are expressing outrage at its shocking premise.
SB 147 would bar Chinese citizens from purchasing any form of property within Texas, residential or commercial. Residents from North Korea, Iran, and Russia would also be impacted under the law, with no exceptions for legal permanent residents, visa holders, or dual citizens.
Though it has not passed yet, Republican Governor Greg Abbott pledged to sign the bill via Twitter, saying it "follows a law I signed banning those countries from threatening our infrastructure."
The proposal has sparked an overwhelming response from Chinese communities in Texas, with activist Ling Luo creating the Asian American Leadership Council to push back against the bill. The organization has spread awareness of the law, and encouraged the community to write and call their legislators.
“Their fear is: ‘I just got my green card. I can’t buy property anymore. How will I live here?’” Lou told NBC News. “Renting is not as great as the freedom of owning your own house. It’s everybody’s dream in the whole world.”
Lou added that the Chinese population in Texas has gone from "fearful to infuriated." Hundreds marched in protest on January 29 through Austin and Dallas, before amassing over 1,000 for a march last week.
State representative Gene Wu, a Democrat from a heavily-Chinese district, said that his constituents aimed to protect national security with the bill, though he believes they are heavily misguided, and that Asian Americans will suffer for it.
“My question is what does my childhood home, this dinky little house that my parents bought for $60,000, have to do with national security? I’ve not gotten an answer," Wu said, continuing, “There’s people who are asking if they need to get out of the state, like right now. I have never seen the Chinese community this active and this motivated in my entire adult life. The community is inflamed right now. They are enraged."
Wu said the bill is reminiscent of 19th and 20th century laws such as Alien Land Laws and the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Asian farmers from buying land and banned the immigration of Chinese laborers altogether.
“There’s this idea of perpetual alien-ness, this idea that Asian Americans can never truly be American, they can never truly be loyal, they can never truly be one of us,” he added. “And this is something that our community has struggled with since there was such a thing as ‘Asian American.’”
Though experts do not expect the bill due to its unconstitutional nature, Lou said that the Chinese community in Texas is preparing for the worst, and that "there’s an expectation that they’re going to do whatever terrible thing they’re going to do."
“Legislators use these kinds of bills to just play with the Chinese community here and appeal to their voter base,” Luo said. “China won’t get hurt at all, and the Chinese investors won’t get hurt at all. It’s the people here, the non-U.S. citizens, Chinese immigrants, who are the ones getting hurt and totally destroyed.”
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