A new bill in the House of Representatives would stop states from implementing laws prohibiting the purchase of land by people based on their country of citizenship.
Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Al Green (D-TX) authored the Preemption of Real Property Discrimination Act. It’s in response to laws that passed in Florida and are under consideration in other states that would restrict certain people from certain countries from buying property in the United States.
The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General would be responsible for enforcement.
Chu and Green just introduced the bill on Thursday, but it is already generating support from Asian American community groups. 28 organizations have endorsed the legislation.
“Committee of 100 has strongly opposed the bills in Texas and Florida on the foundation that they are discriminatory, xenophobic, and un-American,” said Zheng Huang, President of Committee of 100. “There are legitimate national security concerns related to foreign ownership of critical infrastructure, but those decisions should be made at the federal level where the government is more equipped to determine national security and public safety.”
A similar bill in Texas has been defeated after members of the Asian American community there mobilized opposition from across the country. Countries targeted by these bills include China, North Korea, Russia and Iran.
“Buying real property—whether that’s a new house to call home or a commercial property to run a business in—is a critical step for immigrant families, students, and refugees to pursue the American Dream,” said Chair Chu. “Unfortunately, lawmakers in Florida and state legislatures across the country are seeking to prohibit this right for nationals from the People’s Republic of China, Iran, North Korea and other countries and implement a property-owning regime where Asian Americans and people of Asian descent will face undue suspicion and potential racial profiling by realtors, lenders, and others in the real estate industry.”
She calls security concerns legitimate, but questions whether these land bans really address the problems-instead calling the proposals based on someone’s ethnicity and immigration status “a flagrant assault on their civil rights and unconstitutional.”
Florida’s law is currently being challenged in the courts by the ACLU on behalf of Chinese citizens.
“By refusing individuals from these countries basic property rights, these bills take an unacceptable step toward xenophobia, nationalism, and discrimination. Moreover, these laws can be a slippery slope toward future and greater invidious discrimination against other groups,” said Rep Green in a statement sent to AsAmNews.
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Committee of 100 statement