TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A new law that bans citizens of China and some other countries from purchasing property in large swaths of Florida violates federal housing discrimination laws, a lawyer representing Chinese nationals living and working in the state told a federal judge Tuesday.
While other states have laws that prevent foreigners from buying agricultural land, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Ashley Gorski said Florida’s law is extreme and amounts to blanket discrimination against Chinese citizens by equating them to the Chinese Communist Party. She said there is no evidence that Chinese nationals pose a security threat.
The ACLU is seeking an injunction to block enforcement of the measure, which went into effect July 1.
“This is a highly unusual law,” she told Judge Allen Winsor. “Florida’s law is truly extraordinary.”
The law applies to properties within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of military installations and other “critical infrastructure” and also affects citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia and North Korea. But Chinese citizens and those selling property to them face the harshest penalties. The prohibition also applies to agricultural land.
The state argued that the law isn’t discriminatory because it addresses security issues posed by those nations.
Winsor said it is a complicated issue and he would take his time ruling on the request.
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