Under fierce opposition, a Republican legislator in Texas is backing off from a proposal critics called xenophobic and racist, the Texas Tribune reports.
However, Asian Americans who have loudly opposed the bill say the changes don’t go far enough.
Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst says his bill that would have banned people from China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia from buying Texas land will now only be aimed at “government entities” of those four countries.
Asian American groups said the bill would have prevented permanent residents and other non-citizens from owning property.
“I have listened to concerns and because of that, the committee substitute will make it crystal clear that dual citizens and legal permanent residents are able to purchase property,” said Kolkhorst in a statement, according to NBC News. “In fact, anyone fleeing these authoritarian regimes will be able to purchase a home.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbot had previously said he would sign it if passed by the Texas legislature.
“The goal of this bill is to legislate common sense safeguards against Russian, North Korean, Chinese, and Iranian authoritarian regimes,” she said. “It will not apply to those fleeing the tyranny of those governments who seek freedom in Texas. The committee substitute makes important clarifications, so the law targets agents of these adversarial regimes while not harming innocent Texans in pursuit of the American dream.”
Asian American groups remained concerned that the bill will legalize anti-Asian discrimination and have made comparisons to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
“It would put all people who look like me — any Asians — into third-class citizenship because we’d have to prove our immigration status and where we come from when we want to purchase land or a house,” said Alice Yi, a senior strategy consultant at Asian Texans for Justice said to the Tribune.
Houston Democrat Gene Wu says the amendments improve the bill, but he wants to see additional changes.
“I’m Chinese, but I don’t represent the Chinese government,” he said. “This is an open invite to intentional discrimination — if someone comes to an open house that looks Asian, people are just going to say ‘Why risk it? No Asians.’”
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