After a Texas legislator introduced a bill that would ban land sales to citizens of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted to condemn it.
Texas bill SB 147, authored by Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, seeks to prohibit citizens and government entities from those four countries from buying real estate in Texas over alleged national security concerns.
Because the bill targets certain immigrants based on their countries of origin, it has sparked backlash from Chinese American and other immigrant communities nationwide, renewing a vigorous debate on anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.
At a meeting in San Francisco City Hall on Monday afternoon, the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee voted unanimously to pass the resolution. Leading the effort was Supervisor Connie Chan, a Chinese immigrant from Hong Kong.
“This bill is dangerous and racist,” Chan said. “We must stand up for our community, not just here where we live, but also all across the nation.”
She went on to compare the law with California's own Alien land laws during the early 20th century, which restricted Asian immigrants from property ownership.
Representatives from Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and other activist groups spoke at the board meeting in support of the resolution.
If passed by the full board, San Francisco will send an official copy of the resolution to leaders in both Texas and California. Currently, San Francisco has a list of sanctioned states that the city is prohibited from doing official business with because of reproductive rights. Texas is already on the list.
After strong criticism, Kolkhorst, the Texas state senator, had already changed her bill by exempting permanent residents (which is to say, green card holders) from the ban.
She clarified that “property” in her bill refers only to farmland, mines, quarries, mineral and forests where logging occurs—meaning that citizens of all nations can buy Texas real estate for residential purposes.
“I have listened to concerns,” Kolkhorst said in a press release statement. “[The changes] make it crystal clear that dual citizens and legal permanent residents are able to purchase property.”
She emphasized the goal of the bill is to establish safeguards against the authoritarian regimes of Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.
The Standard reached out to Kolkhorst’s office for comment ahead of today’s resolution.
Opponents of the Texas resolution still think it’s still unacceptable, even with the softened tone.
Julie Tang, a retired San Francisco judge and a Chinese immigrant, said the amended bill doesn’t change its character.
She said that classifying the group of Chinese, Russians, North Koreans and Iranians from buying properties is barring them from enjoying the equal rights that other Americans have, regardless of their citizenship.
“That itself is discrimination,” Tang said. “And that in itself is illegal and unconstitutional.”
Han Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org