OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 11:35 AM – Monday, May 8, 2023
Florida’s Legislature has approved a bill that forbids Chinese nationals from owning property in the Sunshine State, which Governor Ron DeSantis will be signing into law.
SB 264, also known as “SB 264: Interests of Foreign Countries,” forbids Chinese citizens from “purchasing or acquiring real property” in Florida or from holding more than a minor “indirect interest in such real property.”
The state’s legislators supported the priority bill on a bipartisan basis and highlighted threats to national security as justification for its passing. The law was approved by the Senate in a 31-8 vote and the House with a 95-17 vote.
Bill SB 264’s earlier filing in March and subsequent House amendments prohibited nationals of “foreign adversaries” from owning land. Countries like China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria were all listed as foreign enemies.
One provision of the amendment offered an exception. For Chinese visa-holders, they would be allowed to own one residence as long as they are registered with a state agency.
Last year, DeSantis stated that the ownership of residential real estate by Chinese firms was a “huge problem” in an interview.
“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land. That is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) owning farmland, owning land close to military bases,” DeSantis said at a press conference in January.
However, the new legislation is being grievously opposed. Chinese Americans gathered outside and demonstrated on Saturday, chanting “Florida is our home” in front of the Florida State Capitol.
More than 100 people similarly opposed the measure at a committee hearing last month, citing fears that it would result in racial profiling and prejudice. If the legislation were to pass, realtors would face “civil or criminal liability” if they had “actual knowledge” of a transaction’s illegality.
Furthermore, opponents claim that the legislation goes against the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which “protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home” or “engaging in other housing-related activities.” The law forbids discrimination based on racial, ethnic, national, religious, and sexual preferences.
Florida has not been the first state to enact legislation prohibiting Chinese people from owning land as South Carolina’s Senate had approved a law prohibiting “alien land ownership” in late March of this year.
Eleven additional states have also discussed or implemented legislation pertaining to Chinese land ownership.
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