DOJ says Florida law restricting Chinese land ownership ‘unconstitutional’


A new Florida law that bars Chinese citizens — with few exceptions — from buying land in the state is unconstitutional, the Justice Department said in a filing on Tuesday.

What state law says: Senate Bill 264signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in May, prohibits nationals of certain “countries of concern” – China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria – from buying land or property within 10 miles of a military installation or “critical infrastructure installation” in Florida.

An exception is made for those with a valid non-tourist visa or those granted asylum, who may purchase a home if that property is less than two acres and not less than five miles from a military installation. Another part of the law specifically restricts Chinese political and corporate entities, but with the same military zone and distance exception.

Existing owners, as well as new buyers who fall under the exception, are required to register their property with the state if they are within 10 miles of any military installation or critical infrastructure.

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What the Department of Justice says: The Justice Department drafted the case in support of a lawsuit seeking to block the new legislation.

According to the agency, the law violates the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. He noted that its “unlawful” provisions will cause “serious harm to persons simply because of their national origin, violate federal civil rights laws, violate constitutional rights, and will not further the purported state purpose.” increase public safety”.

The department said the plaintiffs – a group of four Chinese citizens – would likely succeed in their application for an emergency preliminary injunction.

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The bigger picture: The new law is expected to come into force on July 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the plaintiffs, believes it “will lay an excessive burden of suspicion on anyone seeking to purchase property that sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban. , Venezuelan or Syrian.

A hearing on the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for July 18.

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