In Florida, a bill has been introduced that limits Chinese nationals from owning land or property in the state unless they possess US citizenship or permanent residency. This has caused disagreement among some individuals.
Both Republican and some Democratic lawmakers, along with Governor Ron DeSantis, consider the priority measure to be essential for national security. However, detractors claim it is discriminatory and may violate the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
Polling indicates that DeSantis is the second most popular choice among Republican voters for the party’s 2024 presidential nominee, behind former President Donald Trump, even though he has yet to officially enter the race. If DeSantis is involved in any disputes, it could affect his national political status and weaken or strengthen his reputation as a Florida Republican who opposes “woke” ideology.
This week, the Florida House approved a bill called “SB 264: Interests of Foreign Countries” with a 95 to 17 vote. The bill is now being sent back to the Senate, which had previously passed a version with unanimous agreement. It also prohibits Russians, North Koreans, Iranians, Cubans, Venezuelans, and Syrians from purchasing property within one mile of a military base or critical infrastructure. However, only Chinese nationals are subject to a statewide prohibition.
Congress is increasingly concerned about increased Chinese ownership of agricultural land in the United States, including farmland near an air base in North Dakota that was acquired in 2022. In response, legislation has been introduced at the national and state levels to restrict the purchase of farmland by nations deemed antagonistic to the United States.
However, the proposed legislation in Florida has prompted opposition, with critics arguing that it could violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This landmark legislation from the civil rights era prohibited housing discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, or sex.
Dozens of Chinese Americans protested against the measure in front of the Florida State Capitol on Saturday, carrying signs that read “Equality For All” and “No anti-Asian Bill.”
Wednesday, Democratic state representative Fentrice Driskell argued that the bill appears unconstitutional. She continued: Who will enforce this? Realtors?
However, some Democrats, including state Representative Katherine Waldron, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, support the legislation.
Waldron asserts that we shouldn’t let loud, aggressive actors intimidate us because they don’t have the country’s best interests at heart. It’s important to recognize that communism poses a real threat to “our nation.”
DeSantis stated that the state does not wish to provide financial assets to “hostile nations.” In a January press conference, DeSantis noted that the Chinese Communist Party has been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in acquiring land. DeSantis said it is not in Florida’s best interests for the Chinese Communist Party to own farmland or land near military bases.
DeSantis and Disney, Florida’s biggest employer, also have a legal dispute. Disney claims that the governor violated their First Amendment rights due to their opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Bill, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill, by critics.
On Wednesday, demonstrators from the Dream Defenders campaign group occupied DeSantis’ Tallahassee office and demanded a meeting with the governor.