MIAMI, Florida: Four Chinese citizens living in Florida have sued the state over a new law barring citizens of China and other countries from owning local property, both homes and land.
Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the group said in the lawsuit, filed in a Tallahassee federal court, that the state law is unconstitutional and violates a federal law banning housing discrimination.
The law, which will come into force on 1st July, prohibits individuals who are "domiciled" in China, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia and North Korea, and are not US citizens or green card holders from owning buildings or land in Florida within 10 miles of any military installation or "critical infrastructure facility," such as a power plant, airport or refinery.
However, the law also has a narrow exception allowing holders of non-tourist visas from affected countries to own a single property, providing it is not within five miles of critical infrastructure and not larger than two acres.
Claiming it would protect Americans from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party, Republican Governor and potential US presidential candidate Ron DeSantis signed the law in May.
In the lawsuit, the ACLU stressed that the law violates US Constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection and due process, as well as the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination based on race and nationality.
The lawsuit compares the new Florida law to various "alien land laws" banning Chinese and Japanese immigrants from owning land, which US states enforced in the early 1900s.