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Chinese citizens sue Florida to bar them from buying homes

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The American Civil Liberties Union sued Florida over a law enacted by Governor Ron DeSantis that bars most Chinese citizens from buying homes in the state.

The law, set to take effect on July 1, violates equal protection and due process guarantees under the Constitution by prohibiting landholding on the basis of “race, ethnicity, color, segregation, and national origin.” Dress was filed Monday in federal court in Tallahassee.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Chinese citizens, claiming that the law “stigmatizes them and their communities, and casts a cloud of suspicion over anyone of Chinese descent who wishes to purchase property in Florida.” “

The ACLU said more than a dozen state legislatures have introduced similar bills, many of them targeting people from China. Florida’s law, the first to take effect, comes at a time high tension between the US and China – including the shooting down of a spy balloon off the South Carolina coast.

The governor’s press office did not respond to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Under the law, non-US citizens whose “domicile” is China are banned from purchasing property in Florida, while a similar rule would apply to those who “permanently reside in Cuba, Venezuela or other” live in “countries of concern”. Exceptions would be made for people with non-tourist visas or who have been granted asylum, according to the suit, but they would be prohibited from buying parcels larger than two acres or living within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of military installations.

Individuals who are covered under the law but who bought their homes before July 1 will be required to register with the state, while violators can face criminal charges.

DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has defended the land ownership law and two similar bills aimed at restricting China’s influence in education and data storage, saying they represent “the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence in the state of Florida.” Will resist”. trial.

DeSantis said on May 8, “I am proud to have signed this legislation to prevent the purchase of our farmland and land near our military bases and critical infrastructure by Chinese agents.” in a statement about bills.

The group that filed the lawsuit accused DeSantis of making sweeping statements about Chinese home buyers without backing them up.

The ACLU said, “In his press conference, Governor DeSantis presented no evidence that the Chinese buyers of property in Florida are agents of the Chinese Communist Party or that they have harmed national security.” “Indeed, the State of Florida has failed to identify any nexus between the ownership of real estate by Chinese citizens in general and the alleged harm to national security.”

According to the suit, most “alien land laws” in the US were repealed or repealed in the 1950s. Florida’s constitution was the last to include such a law until 2018, when voters passed a ballot measure to repeal it.