Texas Republicans want to stop these foreign-born citizens from buying land

About 100 Houstonians and elected officials held a rally Monday in front of City Hall to voice their opposition to Texas Senate Bill 147, a measure that, if passed, would bar citizens and foreign organizations from entering China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. from the purchase of land in the state.

The one-page bill, drafted by State Senator Lois Colkhorst (R-Brenham), explains that the legislation applies to any government agency and individual citizens of these countries. In addition to citizens and government organizations, this bill will affect companies “directly or indirectly” associated with the government of these four countries.

Speakers at Monday’s event said the law resembles previous anti-foreigner legislation, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, and incites hatred against the Asian community in particular.

“We must not attack anyone,” said State Representative Jin Woo (Houston State). “We shouldn’t target China, we shouldn’t target Russia, we shouldn’t target any place, because their people from these countries are not like those in these countries. The Chinese Exclusion Act was wrong in 1883 and wrong in 2023.”

Hate crimes against the AAPI community have skyrocketed in 2020, at the height of the pandemic. At the time, former President Donald Trump officially referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.”

Next to Wu, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner held a photograph of Wu’s childhood home. A house that he says his immigrant parents bought and could not have had that legislation in place at the time.

In addition to Wu, other elected officials, organization leaders, and community members have said the law is openly discriminatory, unconstitutional, xenophobic, and illegal at the federal level.

Despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement this week that he would sign SB 147 into law, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) said Abbott should reconsider her support for the bill and that she would introduce counter-legislation to nullify it. .

“This is completely wrong because property cannot be taken without due process,” Li said. “It will be our duty as members of the US Congress to bring relief if the Governor decides to sign this bill. Governor Abbott, I think it would be wise for you to think one, two, three times before signing this hardly sensible and unconstitutional bill.”

More than 7 percent of Harris County residents identify as Asian, according to the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau. Houston has the largest AAPI community in the state, and for decades, Asia City in the city’s southwest has been a reference point for any native Houstonian or transplant.

“It’s immoral, it’s against the American spirit,” said Houston resident Kevin Yu. As a Chinese immigrant with permanent resident status, Yu said the law would negatively impact him and his wife, Houston resident Claire Liang.

In addition to the discriminatory practices in the legislation, Houston real estate broker Lindon Yao said the bill could have a severe negative impact on the state’s economy and small business owners. “We all work hard, pay taxes and raise families here,” Yao said. “We have to stop this so that the legislature will hear our voice. Texas is one of the fastest growing states in America, and real estate is one of the engines of the economy.”

RiseAAPI, the AAPI community support organization, said they are planning a trip to Austin next week to discuss the bill with lawmakers.

“This is another way Republicans in the Texas House are trying to implement policies that oppress people of color, and they are exploiting political situations that are more rooted in foreign policy embarrassments than anything real,” said Nabila Mansour, executive director . director of Rise AAPI. “There is no real threat. This could have serious problems for our economy.

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