Multiple Asian American groups are taking legal action against Republican-led states over laws passed to prohibit affiliates of the Chinese Communist Party from buying property.
Currently enacted in Florida and Alabama, with Texas considering a similar law, these measures restrict foreign nationals from purchasing land near U.S. military installations or locations affecting national or state security. The plaintiffs argue that these bans constitute unlawful discrimination.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Ashley Gorski, who is representing four Chinese citizens suing Florida over SB 264, commented on the lawsuit.
“Florida’s discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified and unconstitutional,” said Gorski.
“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.
The law, set to take effect on July 1, forces the plaintiffs to cancel property purchases. While there is an exception for Chinese nationals with non-tourist visas or asylum status, allowing them to buy up to two acres of land not within five miles of a military installation, it still faces legal challenge.
In response, Democratic Representative Judy Chu of California, who has faced scrutiny over her contacts with CCP operatives, introduced legislation in the House to pre-empt Florida’s law.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended the law, citing the Chinese Communist Party’s extensive land acquisition and investments throughout the Western Hemisphere as a reason for the legislation.
“If 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 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 has also enacted similar restrictions, with Governor Kay Ivey signing the “Alabama Property Protection Act.” In Texas, activists opposed SB 147, a proposed law targeting citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia from purchasing land, although it did not pass before the legislative session ended.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the ACLU have not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit.