Florida Restrictions on Property Purchases by Chinese Citizens Confuse a Dark History of Xenophobia

In 1913, after thirty years Congress passed the China Exclusion Act, California prohibited Chinese and Asian immigrants. More than a dozen states, including Florida, established “Foreign laws” similar to the next few decades.

Cost of SB264which Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed it into law this month, which is too similar to anti-immigrant legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued. filed yesterday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida. “This law is unconstitutional,” the ACLU’s complaint he says. “It violates equal protection and due process guarantees under the U.S. Constitution; it interferes with the government’s ability to control foreign affairs, foreign currency, and national security; and it recalls the same flawed federal laws from decades ago — laws that in over time they were struck down by the courts or abolished by the parliamentarians.”

DeSantis demonstrations SB 264, which severely restricts the ownership of land by Chinese citizens, as part of the government’s efforts to contain the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But the plaintiffs represented by the ACLU, who are legal residents of Florida but do not have green cards, have nothing to do with CCP. They have been working or studying in the United States for years and are frustrated by the inconsistent, restrictive laws in their country that suddenly hinder their plans to buy a place to live.

Among other things, SB 264 prohibits the purchase of real estate by Chinese nationals who are not US citizens or legal permanent residents. Starting July 1, it prohibits them from buying agricultural land or any land within 10 kilometers of a “military installation” or “important place.” These terms are “broadly defined,” the ACLU said, and they “restrict affected individuals from being able to purchase property in many jurisdictions.” The restrictions, it says, “will have the positive effect of creating a ‘China zone’ that will take over large parts of Florida, including many of the state’s most populated and prosperous areas.”

These arrangements also apply to other people “living in a foreign country
concern”—a group that includes Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea and China. two acres and is not five kilometers from the military establishment. The ACLU says “there are more than a dozen weapons in Florida, most of them within five miles of cities like Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Pensacola, Panama City, and Key West.”

Previously owned properties must be registered with the government, and owners who fail to comply are subject to fines of $1,000 per day. Any property purchased in violation of the new laws is subject to forfeiture, and buyers are generally guilty of a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Anyone who knowingly sells a property to a prohibited buyer will face the same penalties. But the penalties are more severe if the buyer is a Chinese citizen: Buyers have a third offense, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, while sellers commit a first offense, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

On May 8 Press release, DeSantis said the law is aimed at the CCP. “Florida is taking steps to address a major political crisis in the United Statesthe Chinese Communist Party,” he said. … We are following through on our promises to deal with Communist China.” Opponents of SB 264 have been surprised by this fact.

Yifan Shen, who works as a nutritionist and has an H-1B “specialty services” visa, has lived in the United States for seven years, the last four in Florida. “He is not a member of the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party,” the ACLU says. In April, he signed a contract to buy a house in Orlando as his first home. The location “appears to be ten miles from the most important location and within five miles of a military installation.” Because the expected closing date is after July 1, the complaint says, the Florida law “will prevent Ms. Shen from finding her new home,” so she “will stand to lose all or part of her $25,000 deposit.”

Zhiming Xu, who sought asylum after being persecuted by the Chinese government and fled to the United States, has a similar problem. He has lived in the United States for four years and works as a manager of short-term rental properties. This year he signed a contract to buy a house near Orlando that “seems to be ten miles away from the worst of the worst.” He “stands to lose all or part of his $31,250” if SB 264 goes into effect.

Another plaintiff, Xinxi Wang, holds an F-1 international student visa and is pursuing a doctorate in earth sciences at the University of Florida. He already owns a home in Miami but is forced to register under SB 264, a requirement the ACLU describes as “burdensome, discriminatory, and humiliating.”

Yongxin Liu, an assistant professor of data science who has an H-1B visa and has lived in Florida for four years, also had to register his home near Daytona Beach. SB 264 would include Liu’s plan to buy her and her parents a vacation home near Pelican Bay.

The ACLU also represents Multi-Choice Realty, a real estate brokerage that, like other plaintiffs, has no affiliation with CCP. The company, which specializes in serving Chinese-speaking customers, is worried that Florida’s new restrictions will hurt its business by turning off many of its customers. The complaint adds that SB 264 is likely to promote significant discrimination against “Chinese people even in the context of permitted transactions, as sellers will be more likely to avoid Chinese buyers after being penalized for selling goods in violation of the new law.”

Even leaving aside the fact that the appellants are not supporters of the CCP, a The Chinese threat identified by DeSantis appears to be chimerical. In 2022, the complaint states, “Chinese buyers accounted for only 0.1 percent of real estate sales in Florida — they purchased only one in 1,000 homes sold in the state. Of foreign and national buyers in 2022, Chinese buyers accounted for no more than two percent of buyers.” outsiders.

DeSantis “did not provide evidence that the Chinese real estate buyers in Florida are agents of the Chinese Communist Party or have compromised national security,” the ACLU said. “Indeed, the State of Florida has failed to identify any connection between home ownership by Chinese citizens and the threat to national security.”

DeSantis wants us to believe that barring a nutritionist, property manager, or professor from buying real estate in Florida, based on their nationality and non-immigrant status, is damaging to the “Chinese Communist Party” and “destabilizing.[s] in communist China.” But it is difficult to see why innocent people should suffer because of the mistakes of the oppressive regime that he left behind.

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