Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC Denounces Federal Judge's Failure to Block Discriminatory Florida Land Law

Washington, D.C. — August 17, 2023 — Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC denounces failure to block a new Florida law that restricts people from China from owning property in the state. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC issues the following statement: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC is outraged at the decision to deny a preliminary injunction to block SB264, which aimed to prevent foreign nationals from countries of concern, including individuals from China, from purchasing property in the state of Florida under the pretext of national security concerns.

The discriminatory evocation of historical alien land laws unfairly singles out Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, Syrian, Russian, Venezuelan, and Cuban foreign nationals from freely and lawfully buy property in wide swaths of Florida. For Chinese foreign nationals, the restrictions are broader and bars them from acquiring real estate anywhere in Florida. Such legislation perpetuates prejudice and xenophobia, marginalizing these communities and making them potential targets for further hate and alienation.

Despite strong opposition from Asian American communities, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, the failure to block this law is a concerning setback for civil rights and equal protection under the law. It reinforces the need for continued advocacy to protect the rights of all Americans, regardless of their racial or ethnic background.

"We are deeply disappointed by the court's decision not to block this discriminatory land law," said John C. Yang President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC. "The court has missed an opportunity to protect the rights of Asian American, AMEMSA, and other communities affected by this unjust policy. It weaponizes the 1923 case of Terrace v. Thompson which upheld a Washington state law that barred most aliens from acquiring property but is largely no longer considered to be good law. Moreover, the court misinterprets Oyama v. California (1948) which did in fact, discuss how a state’s consideration of an individual’s heritage could contribute to the ‘cumulative effect…to discriminate’ against a Japanese American. This decision is a massive misstep and ultimately fails to address the discriminatory nature of this law."

This outcome is a distressing continuation of historical practices of using national security as a thinly veiled attempt to scapegoat our Asian and AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian) communities. Throughout history, many states have exploited the definition of citizenship to impose restrictions primarily on Chinese and Japanese individuals, attempting to exclude Asian immigrants from settling permanently in the U.S.

The recurrence of such practices emphasizes the urgency of our collective efforts to combat prejudice and uphold equality for all communities. Advancing Justice – AAJC stands firmly against divisive legislation and calls on lawmakers to reject any proposals that perpetuate profiling based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. We will continue our advocacy to protect the rights of all Asian Americans and fight for a society that values diversity and inclusivity.

About Asian Americans Advancing Justice –

AAJC Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.