New legislation prohibiting Chinese nationals from purchasing property in significant portions of the state was the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by a group of Chinese residents and employees in Florida.
The rule also affects Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korean inhabitants and properties within 10 miles (16 km) of military sites and other “critical infrastructure.”
The most severe sanctions, however, are imposed on Chinese citizens, and those who sell them real estate and rural property is likewise subject to restriction.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the regulation will significantly reduce sales to Chinese and Asian real estate buyers.
According to the lawsuit, there is no proof that Chinese nationals purchasing Florida real estate threaten national security and that the statute unfairly links Chinese people with the conduct of their government.
According to the ACLU, the law “will codify and expand housing discrimination against people of Asian descent in violation of the Constitution and the Fair Housing Act,” which is why it is suing. Additionally, it will place excessive suspicion on anyone looking to purchase real estate whose name even faintly resembles an Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian name.
Amid rising tensions over security and trade, U.S.-China relations are strained. Since a Chinese surveillance balloon passed over the sky from Alaska to South Carolina last month, a long-standing concern over foreign land ownership in nearly a dozen state legislatures and Congress has increased.
The bill was signed on May 8 by Republican Governor Ron de Santis, who is anticipated to start his presidential campaign this week. Emailing his office for comment did not immediately elicit a response.
The law will go into effect on July 1. Chinese citizens who purchase real estate in restricted locations will break the law, as would anyone who sells to specified people on purpose, including real estate agents.
The punishment is a misdemeanor for buyers and sellers from the other designated nations.
In addition to infrastructure like airports and seaports, water and wastewater treatment plants, natural gas and oil processing facilities, power plants, spaceports, and central switching offices for telecommunications, it also applies to military installations.
The law, according to the ACLU, “will ultimately create ‘Chinese exclusion zones’ that will cover enormous portions of Florida, including many of the state’s most densely populated and developed areas.”
The complaint claims that more than a century ago, statutes like the California Alien Land Law of 1913 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had the same effects.
Owners of property close to essential infrastructure who are on the restricted list are required to register with the state or risk fines of up to $1,000 per day.
Additionally, they are forbidden from acquiring new property. The law contains clauses that permit the state to take the property of infringers.
This year has seen a 50% increase in states that prohibit foreign ownership of agricultural land.
In 14 states, foreign ownership or investment in privately owned agricultural property was prohibited as of 2023.
Restrictive legislation has also been passed this year in Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Land ownership by foreigners has turned into “a political flashpoint,” according to Micah Brown, a staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas.
According to Brown, the current uptick in state laws limiting foreign ownership of land is due to certain well-publicized instances of Chinese-connected corporations buying land close to military facilities.
This year, the U.S. According to the Air Force, a $700 million wet corn milling factory built by the Fufeng Group close to a base in Grand Forks, North Dakota, poses a “significant threat to national security.”
In response to a Chinese army veteran and real estate tycoon purchasing a wind farm next to an Air Force installation in Texas in 2021, that state outlawed infrastructure deals with anyone connected to adversarial regimes, including China.