State of Florida sued over foreign ownership legislation

by | May 23, 2023



  • Chinese residents in Florida and a real estate brokerage primarily serving Chinese clientele have filed a joint lawsuit against the state over a law that restricts property acquisition near critical infrastructure and military installations.
  • The lawsuit argues that the law will institutionalize housing discrimination against Asian individuals, violating the Constitution and the Fair Housing Act.
  • The legislation also introduces provisions restricting contracts with foreign individuals and companies, as well as prohibiting foreign countries of concern from acquiring agricultural land in the state.

Chinese residents in Florida, alongside a real estate brokerage catering predominantly to Chinese clientele, have jointly filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida over a recently-enacted law that prohibits individuals hailing from certain countries from acquiring residential properties near critical infrastructure and military installations.

The recently-enacted legislation imposes restrictions on citizens of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. The lawsuit argues that the measure will, in practice, institutionalize and broaden housing discrimination against Asian individuals, thereby violating both the Constitution and the Fair Housing Act.

It further asserts that the law will place an unjustified burden of suspicion on anyone with an Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian-sounding name seeking to purchase property.

“Florida’s discriminatory property law is unfair, unjustified, and unconstitutional,” said Ashley Gorski, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, who is representing the plaintiffs in the suit. “Everyone in the United States is entitled to equal protection under our laws, including citizens of other countries. If SB 264 goes into effect, it will profoundly harm our clients and countless other immigrants in Florida.”

The legislation also introduces provisions that establish statutes to impose restrictions on governmental entity contracting, prohibiting state entities from entering into contracts with companies or individuals based in a nation deemed by the state to be of concern.

It further prohibits governmental entities from entering into contracts for economic incentives with foreign actors, while concurrently preventing governments, citizens, and businesses from foreign countries of concern from acquiring agricultural land in the state.

State leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson, previously vowed to “crack down” on countries like China in response to foreign businesses reportedly buying up large tracts of farmland.

A recent report by the National Association of Realtors found that Chinese real estate investors spent over $6 billion on American real estate over a 12-month period that ended in March — more than any other foreign group.

Notably, Florida accounted for 24 percent of all international real estate purchases in the US.

“Florida is taking action to stand against the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat — the Chinese Communist Party,” said DeSantis. “I’m proud to sign this legislation to stop the purchase of our farmland and land near our military bases and critical infrastructure by Chinese agents.”

1 Comment

  1. CaptTurbo

    I’m sure that the communist democrats will pile on to support their communist owners.

 

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