Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Law That Would Limit Them, Russians, Cubans, Venezuelans & Others from Buying Property

Plaintiffs say a law set to take effect in July will cast suspicion on any property buyers whose name sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan or Syrian.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Accusing Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of enacting an unconstitutional law that would not have been out of place at the turn of the last century, a group of Chinese American immigrants have filed a lawsuit against the state over S.B. 264, which restricts most Chinese citizens from purchasing homes in Florida.

The law is set to take effect on July 1, but the plaintiffs and the groups representing them — including the ACLU, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), and the ACLU of Florida — hope to block the measure in the courts. 

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

DeSantis has said the law is meant to protect the state from the Chinese Communist Party, even though, as the ACLU said, “there is no evidence of national security harm resulting from real estate ownership.” Citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Russia, Iran, and North Korea would also be restricted from purchasing homes in Florida.

Fair Housing Act 

U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, Florida. (Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The law is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Fair Housing Act, said the ACLU. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing due to national origin and race as well as religion, sex, gender identity and disability. 

The plaintiffs, who filed their suit on Monday in federal court in the Northern District of Florida, also warned that the law will “cast an undue burden of suspicion on anyone seeking to buy property whose name sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian,” and is likely to prompt harassment of Asian American people seeking to buy property. 

“All Asian Americans will feel the stigma and the chilling effect created by this Florida law, just like the discriminatory laws did to our ancestors more than a hundred years ago,” said Clay Zhu, co-founder of CALDA. “We shall not go back.”

Despite DeSantis’ claims that the law is meant to protect the state, “The reality will be that any seller, when they see a Chinese name… will think, ‘Too much trouble,’ and they’ll refuse to sell,” Echo King, a Chinese American attorney based in Orlando, Florida, told Vox last week.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2018 Fair Housing exhibit honoring 50 years of the Fair Housing Act. (HUD, Public domain)

S.B. 264 harkens back to the “alien land laws” of the early 1900s, which prohibited Chinese and Japanese immigrants from becoming landowners. In addition to harming these communities financially, the laws “severely exacerbated violence and discrimination against Asian communities living in the United States” before they were finally struck down by courts and legislatures across the country. 

“We have repeatedly seen how policies in the name of national security have harmed Asian Americans — from immigration restrictions, to the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans in camps, and post-9/11 surveillance,” said Bethany Li, legal director for AALDEF. “Failing to call out the discriminatory impacts means our community will continue to experience racism, violence, and the erosion of rights.”

DeSantis is the first Republican governor to sign a discriminatory housing bill targeting Chinese people into law, but more than a dozen state legislatures have proposed similar bills. 

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Support CN’s Spring

Fund Drive Today


18 comments for “Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Law That Would Limit Them, Russians, Cubans, Venezuelans & Others from Buying Property

  1. lester
    May 26, 2023 at 14:09

    I’ve known Japanese-Americans who grew up in Camp Manzanar. Hot war with PR Chjina would probably put lots of Chinese-Americans behind barbed-wire fences, in giant GTMO camps. At very least, anti-Chinese rioting, etc., like the anti-German pogroms of 1917 is not at all unlikely.

  2. lester
    May 26, 2023 at 14:05

    “DeSantis” doesn’t sound like a very Anglo-Saxon surname, somehow.

  3. joey_n
    May 25, 2023 at 15:45

    I’m not sure what differentiates Cuban and Venezuelan names from those of the rest of Latin America or Spain, so there’s one flaw this bill has that I can observe.
    Similar case goes with South Korean and Taiwanese citizens as well, since they speak the same language as North Korea and China respectively.

    I’ve been told that the state of Texas has implemented or is implementing a similar law as well, which is also unfortunate since my dad is looking for property there (he lives in Washingtin state).

  4. robert e williamson jr
    May 25, 2023 at 12:30

    Good deal!

  5. Emme
    May 25, 2023 at 06:39

    Upon hearing of Tina Turner’s death yesterday, checked online MSM sites for their coverage. Her passing was top of the page everywhere except Fox, which is to be no surprise. While sad to hear she was gone, I felt a tiny bit of satisfaction that in her death she lost DeSantis a lot of coverage of his big announcement.

  6. Bob Martin
    May 24, 2023 at 22:48

    DeSantis makes Trump look positively middle of the road. He’s a pure fascist. Hitler would have admired him.

    • JonnyJames
      May 25, 2023 at 17:46

      Despite the superficial charades, and tired rhetoric, the entire US political establishment (Both sides of the D/R dictatorship) is right wing authoritarian (aka “pure fascist”)
      Recall Madeleine Albright saying that the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children was “worth it”. And HRC after seeing a video of Gaddafi’s beheading and disembowelment with a sword “We came, we saw, he died”. These are some racist, imperialist, mass-murdering scum.

      Women, men, Ds Rs – it’s bipartisan . DeSantis is no different, I’m sure he would give the orders to mass murder folks just as well.

  7. Alec des Gardins
    May 24, 2023 at 17:45

    Nothing says “Freedom” like laws where the government claims the right to decide who can and can not own property. Especially when the laws straddle a line between ‘nationality’ and ‘race’, thus the echo the many past laws that said “we don’t want THOSE people owning land.”

    Yep, that’s either Freedom I smell, or perhaps a sewage treatment plant. Hard to tell the difference in this country these days.

    “One of the key factors behind our nation’s great prosperity is the open trade policy that allows the American people to freely exchange goods and services with free people around the world.” — President Ronald Reagan, 1983, Thanksgiving Day

    Just not land, and just not with those people, what do you think this is, a free country?

  8. Rob Roy
    May 24, 2023 at 17:29

    Uglier and uglier. This country is going downhill rapidly and has been since WWII, the most destructive on the planet. Kindness is not in the realm of possibility, let alone consideration, for people like DeSantis.

  9. J Anthony
    May 24, 2023 at 16:18

    This doofus is such a throw-back, he’ll go down in flames hard and fast should he attempt to run for POTUS

  10. Jim other
    May 24, 2023 at 16:08

    Desantis has now shown his true aims. Discriminate, sow hate and division!

  11. Barbara Mullin
    May 24, 2023 at 15:35

    This sure sounds like a bad idea. My deceased husband worked with a Chinese guy who retired to Florida with his wife. He and my
    husband were New Jersey journalists. The Chinese guy had a father in Taiwan who was previously a political leader in China.
    This family lived forever here in the USA with their three children.

  12. Arie Nieuwenhuizen
    May 24, 2023 at 15:11

    Why isn’t Israel excluded by DeSantis? ?
    Former Israeli advisor Daniel Levy criticised the EU for granting Israel “impunity” as it violates international laws during a European Parliament Foreign Affairs committee meeting.


  13. Valerie
    May 24, 2023 at 15:03

    Whereas i appreciate their concerns of discrimination, i cannot appreciate anyone buying property in Florida:

    “Scientists expect the lower third of the state to be underwater by 2100”

    • Anon
      May 25, 2023 at 00:33

      Good 1, Valerie!
      Expect Lotta water… not just rain, but sweat sweat sweat as well!

      • Valerie
        May 25, 2023 at 10:41

        Real estate agents here on the mediterranean sea are advising people not to buy on the coast.

    • Common Sense
      May 25, 2023 at 18:08

      Hi there Valerie ^^

      off topic here- but since you were saying in one of your recent articles, that you cannot reach RT in Europe, you may try this link, which I use from the FRG:

      You also can subscribe to a newsletter always being informed about potential necessary link switches, which actually does almost never happen :)

      • Valerie
        May 26, 2023 at 13:25

        Thanks a million Common Sense. It works. (I can never figure out though why Rt/Sputnik is censored, but Tass isn’t – never mind i’ve got RT now)

Comments are closed.