After a Texas legislator introduced a bill to ban the sale of land to citizens of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to condemn it.
Texas Bill SB 147, sponsored by Republican Senator Lois Colkhorst, seeks to prevent citizens and government entities from these four countries from buying property in Texas for national security reasons.
Because the bill targets certain immigrants based on their country of origin, it has drawn backlash from Chinese Americans and other immigrant communities across the country, rekindling a heated debate about anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.
At a meeting at San Francisco City Hall on Monday afternoon, the board’s land use and transportation committee voted unanimously to pass the resolution. Supervisor Connie Chan, a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong, led the work.
“This bill is dangerous and racist,” Chan said. “We must protect our community, not only here where we live, but throughout the country.”
She further compared the law to California’s own alien land laws in the early 20th century, which restricted Asian immigrants from owning property.
Representatives from the China Affirmative Action Movement, China United Benevolent Association and other activist groups spoke at the board meeting in support of the resolution.
If it is passed by the entire council, San Francisco will send an official copy of the resolution to the leaders of Texas and California. San Francisco currently has a list of sanctioned states that the city is prohibited from doing official business with due to reproductive rights. Texas is already on the list.
Changes in the bill
After being heavily criticized by Colkhorst, the Texas state senator, has already changed her bill, exempting permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) from the ban.
She clarified that “property” in her bill only refers to farmland, mines, quarries, minerals, and deforested forests, meaning that citizens of all countries can buy property in Texas to live in.
“I listened to the concerns,” Colkhorst said in a press statement. “[The changes] make it crystal clear that dual citizens and lawful permanent residents can purchase property.”
She stressed that the purpose of the bill is to establish guarantees against the authoritarian regimes of Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.
Standard reached out to the Kolkhorst office for comment ahead of today’s resolution.
Opponents of the Texas resolution still consider it unacceptable, despite the softened tone.
Julie Tang, a former San Francisco judge and Chinese immigrant, said the amended law does not change its nature.
She said classifying a group of Chinese, Russians, North Koreans and Iranians as a real estate purchase deprives them of the same rights as other Americans, regardless of their citizenship.
“That in itself is discrimination,” Tan said. “And that in itself is illegal and unconstitutional.”
Han Lee can be reached in [email protected]