Chinese Floridians Defy Gov. DeSantis’ New Law

Earlier this month, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law prohibiting for Chinese and other nationals to purchase property in Florida.

This week, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a group of Floridians of Chinese origin sued the state repeal it.

The people represented by the ACLU said in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee, that the state law, which takes effect July 1, is unconstitutional and violates a federal law that prohibits housing discrimination.

The law prohibits persons “domiciled” in China who are not US citizens or residents from owning buildings or land in Florida. For a few decades the population of Chinese origin has increased in Florida, to the point that a small Chinatown is growing north of Miami.

The Chinese in Miami (I)

This law also prohibits most “domiciled” citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea from owning property within 10 miles of any military installation or “critical infrastructure facility” such as a power plant. , an airport or a refinery.

The law includes a small exception. It allows non-tourist visa holders from these countries to own a single piece of property that is not within five miles of critical infrastructure and is not larger than two acres.

DeSantis signed it on the grounds that it would help protect Americans from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese in Miami (II and final)

People who own or acquire property in violation of the law are subject to criminal charges, fines, and imprisonment.

The ACLU said the law violates the US Constitution’s provisions on equality and due process. The group stressed that it also violates the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination based on race and national origin.

The lawsuit compares the Florida law to a series of “foreign land laws” that states adopted in the early 20th century barring Chinese and Japanese immigrants from owning land.

Courts struck down most of those laws in the 1950s, though one Florida law remained in effect until 2018, when voters approved repeal.

DeSantis, who formalized his candidacy for president on Wednesday, faces an enormous number of lawsuits over the legislative packages he has enacted in recent months.

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