Texas [US], May 6 (ANI): The Texas Senate has passed a bill putting restrictions on land purchases by citizens of China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, The Intercept reported.
This raises alarms among civil liberties advocates who fear it is the first step toward legally enshrining discrimination based on national origin in the state.
According to The Intercept, the bill, Senate Bill 147, would ban the purchase of "real property" by citizens from China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea, even if they are in the country legally on certain visas.
The bill defines "real property" as "agricultural land, an improvement located on agricultural land, a mine or quarry, a mineral in place, or a standing timber."Republican Governor Greg Abbott who was awaiting review by the Texas House of Representatives, has publicly vowed that he will sign it into law if it reaches his desk.
Legal and advocacy director for the civil rights group Project South, Azadeh Shahshahani, said: "The bill perpetuates anti-immigrant bias and racism by unconstitutionally encouraging discrimination on the basis of immigration or citizenship status and national origin. Discrimination against certain groups has often been justified by invoking national security concerns. This bill and others like it echo this shameful history."The bill which has gone through multiple revisions, is a watered-down version of a far more draconian proposal that would have completely banned all property sales, including home purchases, to citizens and dual nationals of the four targeted countries, according to The Intercept.
The announcement of the original measure last year triggered widespread protests by Chinese and Iranian American activist groups in Texas. In response to the pressure, the bill was narrowed to focus on purchases of farmland by individuals deemed to be foreign citizens but created exemptions for citizens and permanent residents of the US, as per The Intercept. (ANI)