Texas Bill Prohibiting Foreign Countries from Purchasing Land Sparks Controversy

Texas has recently proposed a bill that would prevent citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing land in the state. Governor Greg Abbott tweeted his intent to sign the bill, but it has come under heavy criticism from some legislators and members of the public.[0] The bill, Senate Bill 147, was introduced by Senator Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican representing District 18.[1] It would prohibit citizens, businesses, or entities from these countries from purchasing or leasing any property in Texas.

The bill provides no exemptions for visa-holders or people who are on the path to citizenship.[2] It also applies to dual citizens, like myself.[3] Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) has filed SB 552 to ban citizens and companies from the same four countries from purchasing or leasing agricultural land in Texas, and Representative Cody Harris (R-Palestine) has filed HB 1075 to prevent any foreign governments or companies controlled by a foreign government from owning agricultural land.[0]

The bill has been criticized for unfairly targeting citizens and for being vague, as well as for potentially complicating relationships between the US and China.[2] The proposed law has been compared to the “Yellow Peril” and has been accused of resurrecting outdated stereotypes. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has denounced the bill as an unconstitutional attempt to erode the rights of immigrants in the state.[1]

In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has argued that the US is violating the principles of market economy and international trade rules.[4] They have pointed out that Chinese companies investment in the US has made important contributions to promoting local employment and economic development.[5]

It remains to be seen whether this bill will come to fruition, but it is clear that it has generated strong feelings on both sides of the debate.

0. “SEN. KOLKHORST ADDRESSES SB 147 CONCERNS” KWHI, 8 Feb. 2023, https://kwhi.com/2023/02/08/sen-kolkhorst-addresses-sb-147-concerns/

1. “Texas Bill Could Bar Certain Immigrants From Buying Land” Reason, 6 Feb. 2023, https://reason.com/2023/02/06/this-texas-bill-could-bar-certain-immigrants-from-buying-property-in-the-state

2. “New Texas Senate Bill is a misguided attempt to protect state security” North Texas Daily, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.ntdaily.com/new-texas-senate-bill-is-a-misguided-attempt-to-protect-state-security/

3. “Opinion: Property ownership bill threatens immigrant groups” Austin American-Statesman, 5 Feb. 2023, https://www.statesman.com/story/opinion/columns/guest/2023/02/05/opinion-property-ownership-bill-threatens-immigrant-groups/69862872007/

4. “US Violating Rules Over Proposed Property Purchase Ban: China” Benzinga, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.benzinga.com/government/23/02/30850676/china-accuses-us-of-violating-rules-of-market-economy-over-proposed-property-purchase-ban

5. “U.S. restrictions on Chinese property ownership violate international trade rules: Chinese FM” ecns, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.ecns.cn/news/cns-wire/2023-02-10/detail-ihckmzxh9378885.shtml