In the Florida House of Representatives, House Bill (HB) 1355 "Interests of Foreign Countries" was introduced by Representatives Borrero and Waldron and approved by the Judiciary Committee on 3/23/23; approved by the Appropriations Committee on 4/12/23; and approved on 4/19/23 by the State Affairs Committee when the Asian American community found out that the bill would likely become law and that it would prohibit the purchase or acquisition of Florida real estate by individuals from certain countries, including China. In the Florida Senate, a companion bill with identical or similar language, Senate Bill (SB) 264 "Interests of Foreign Countries" was introduced by Senators Collins and Avila and approved by the Judiciary Committee on 3/14/23 and the Rules Committee on 3/22/23. Senate Bill 264 which became law restricts foreign ownership of Florida agricultural land and infrastructure, with a specific focus on restricting Chinese individuals from buying property in Florida. The Florida House of Representatives approved a version of SB264 on 5/3/23 (95 yeas 17 nays) and the Florida Senate approved that same version of SB264 on 5/4/23 (31 yeas 8 nays). Senate Bill 264 was signed by the Governor on 5/8/23 and became law effective 7/1/23.
As shown on the drop down below the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance (FAAJA) went to Tallahassee on April 29, 2023 to oppose the House and Senate bills "Interests of Foreign Countries". FAAJA believed at that time and still believes that the vague definition of who can and cannot purchase property under this new law raises grave concerns that they could be used to target Chinese individuals and prevent them from purchasing homes in Florida.
Like everyone in the United States, we believe that national security is of paramount importance. However, the legislative overreach in Section 7 of HB1355 and SB264 is both unconstitutional and deeply discriminatory to the Asian American community, making the ridiculous assumption that all Chinese citizens not currently with a Green Card are agents of the Chinese Community Party. This law violates the United States Constitution, the Florida State Constitution, the Fair Housing Act, and federal and state regulations that protect civil liberties and equal rights for everyone. This new law includes remnants of the notorious Alien Land Law, which was removed from the Florida Constitution merely five years ago, in 2018. Florida was the last state in the United States to repeal those discriminatory laws.
This new law is heartbreaking. It infringes upon our rights and freedom and will have a negative impact on our families, communities, and economy. We hope that these laws can be repealed or amended to address the concerns of the Asian, especially the Chinese community, People from Asia including China living in the United States just want to feel that they are part of this nation and continue to pursue their individual American dream.