An appellate court on Thursday blocked Florida from exercising a law against two Chinese citizens who were buying property in the state when the law was enacted. The law prevents Chinese people who do not have U.S. citizenship or green cards from buying or owning land or buildings in Florida.
Bethany Li, the legal director of one of the firms representing the plaintiffs, slammed the law as unconstitutional and celebrated the appeals court’s decision.
“Florida’s alien land law specifically targets Chinese individuals in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause,” Li said in a statement. “Today’s ruling should serve as a warning to other states that are considering passing similarly racist bills, steeped in a history when Asians were ineligible for citizenship and were told they didn’t belong.”
Her firm, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union and other offices to represent the plaintiffs. They accused Florida of “weaponizing false claims of ‘national security’ against Asian and other immigrants,” comparing the ban to early 20th-century alien land laws, which barred Chinese immigrants from property ownership in California and several other states. According to the statement, Florida was one of the last states to repeal its alien land law, striking it down in 2018.
“As a country, we should be making progress and passing laws that protect all communities,” Li said, “rather than going back in time and reviving antiquated laws passed over a century ago.”