Texas bill could prevent some immigrants from buying land

As it currently stands, Texas law guarantee that “an alien has the same real and personal property rights as a citizen of the United States.” That may not be controversial — but a new bill is looking to add some big exceptions.

Senate Bill (SB) 147, introduced in November by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), would bar any “person who is a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia” from buying property in Texas. SB 147 would also block government and corporate entities in those states from buying or acquiring property in the state. Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcement He will sign the bill if it passes.

When he introduced SB 147, Kolkhorst quoted “Extremely troubling” examples of foreign companies buying property in Texas and elsewhere in the United States. But some aspects of the law itself are troubling, and its vague wording opens the door to questionable state action—against citizens who have nothing to do with the evils of their government.

There is Kolkhorst emphasis That “restrictions do not apply to citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States.” Likewise, Abbott said The bill “does not affect all persons who are either citizens or intend to become citizens of the United States.” But the bill is in its current form makes There is no such guarantee or express mention of applicability to dual nationals. According to Houston’s KHOU 11, Colkhorst’s office last month sent The station “issued a statement that said the bill would ultimately clarify that it does not apply to legal permanent residents. However, his staff acknowledged by phone, the bill, as it stands, makes no difference.”

“The bill applies to citizens of that country regardless of their status in the United States,” said David J. Beer, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute. “However, relevantly, it appears that the authors intended it to be an exception to the equal rights provision applicable to aliens.” Even if they did clarify that exception, Bear notes that “lawful permanent residents are still considered aliens by the federal government” and “there appears to be nothing in Texas law that defines the term alien as “those seeking to become citizens” or as legal exclusions. Either. Permanent resident.”

Those groups aside, Beer said the law would cover “every citizen of this country: primarily, illegal residents, student visa holders and skilled workers without permanent residency.” This will also apply to foreigners working as entertainers and athletes. “It’s interesting that one of the state’s most important athletes in the 2000s was Yao Ming,” he noted, “who will be banned from owning property under this law.”

Other Republican-led states have also begun scrutinizing foreign land purchases. In January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to reveal Interest in stopping Chinese purchases of farmland and houses in his state. There are reasonable policy arguments here, but the Texas bill lacks nuance. By isolating citizens and not just government-connected entities, it could very well harm foreign nationals fleeing governments that American politicians want to punish. This might include people like Joe Joe Wang, a Houston restaurateur interview By KHOU 11 who said he kept his Chinese citizenship “to visit family and avoid a reaction from the Communist government.”

State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), who opposed to SB 147, states that “there is no discretion as to what kind of land is being purchased or who is purchasing it.” Although a Press release Kolkhorst criticized foreign purchases of large tracts of land near military bases and in agricultural areas, saying his law did not distinguish between that property and residential property. “It targets individuals indiscriminately,” said A.

David Donati, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, called SB 147 “an unconstitutional attempt to undermine the rights of immigrants in the state.” The Constitution “guarantees equal protection and due process to citizens and non-citizens,” he said. “The discriminatory bill would prohibit members of our community from participating in the Texas economy, including dual citizens and lawful permanent residents, such as green card holders.”

If passed, this legislation could act as a serious deterrent for immigrants to settle in the United States. Stuart Anderson, as executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, Note that A Forbes Last week’s column, “Individuals from affected countries may begin making decisions about where to work or study to avoid Texas,” and “Companies may be concerned if they are treated differently under Texas law based on where they were born.”

“Prohibiting long-term non-citizen residents from owning property would certainly discourage them from staying. [in] Texas,” Bear said. Ultimately, this will “damage property values ​​in the state and discourage business investment.”