A U.S. appeals court has blocked Florida’s ban on Chinese nationals from owning homes or land in the state against two Chinese nationals who were in the process of buying property at the time of the law’s passage.
A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said Thursday that the individuals will prevail on the lawsuits. Florida’s ban violates federal law manage the purchase of real estate by foreign nationals.
A Florida federal judge in August had refused to obstruct the law, giving rise to the plaintiffs’ appeal. The 11th Circuit stayed the statute against two plaintiffs pending the outcome of the case.
Lawmakers in several Republican-led states, including Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, are considering similar restrictions on Chinese nationals owning property. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs he said last year that such laws “violate market economy rules and international trade rules.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bethany Lee, legal director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs, said Florida’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution by specifically targeting Chinese citizens.
“Today’s decision should serve as a warning to other states considering adopting racist bills steeped in a history of saying Asians are ineligible for citizenship and don’t belong,” Lee said.
Florida law prohibits people who are “domiciled” in China and are not US citizens or green card holders from buying real estate or land in the state.
It also prohibits most citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia and North Korea from owning property near military installations and infrastructure such as power plants and airports.
The law contains a narrow exception that allows non-tourist visa holders from these countries to own a property located at least 5 miles from critical infrastructure.
When Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the law last May, he said it would help protect Americans from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.
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