Texas is the latest state to consider legislation that would bar citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing real estate and other property in the state. The proposed bill, known as Senate Bill (S.B.) 147 and introduced by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham), would ban citizens, businesses, or entities of these countries from buying property in Texas. Additionally, the bill would also prohibit government entities of these countries from owning or acquiring property in the state.
Gov. Greg Abbott has publicly announced his intention to sign the bill into law should it be passed. In the interest of state security, the governor tweeted his support of the bill on January 2022. The bill, however, has come under fire from some members of the public and legislators, who argue that the bill is overly-discriminatory and could further complicate U.S.-China relations.
S.B. 147 builds off of a similar bill that was passed unanimously in the 2021 Texas Legislature, S.B. 2116, which prevents the four countries from entering into contracts or agreements related to critical infrastructure in the state. Several other bills have been proposed in both the Senate and the House to ban foreign citizens and companies from purchasing agricultural land in Texas.
Kolkhorst has faced criticism for the bill, with opponents claiming that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees equal protection and due process to citizens and non-citizens alike. The bill would also bar immigrants with visas, green cards, and asylum seekers from purchasing property in the state. David Donatti, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, calls S.B. 147 “an unconstitutional attempt to erode the rights of immigrants in the state.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also spoken out against the proposed bill, stating that it violates the principles of market economy and international trade rules. It is yet to be seen whether the bill will be passed and signed into law, but it is certain that it will continue to be a source of contention between those in favor of the bill and those against it.
0. “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/
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. “SEN. KOLKHORST ADDRESSES SB 147 CONCERNS” kwhi.com, 8 Feb. 2023, https://kwhi.com/2023/02/08/sen-kolkhorst-addresses-sb-147-concerns/