TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A group of Chinese citizens living and working in Florida sued the state Monday over a new law that bans Chinese nationals from purchasing property in large swaths of the state. The law applies to land near military installations and other “critical infrastructure” and also affects citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. But Chinese citizens face the harshest restrictions. The law “will codify and expand housing discrimination against people of Asian descent in violation of the Constitution and the Fair Housing Act. It will also cast an undue burden of suspicion on anyone seeking to buy property whose name sounds remotely Asian, Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Venezuelan, or Syrian,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a press release announcing the suit. The suit says the law unfairly equates Chinese people with the actions of their government and there is no evidence of national security risk from Chinese citizens buying Florida property.
U.S.-China ties are strained amid growing tensions over security and trade. In nearly a dozen statehouses and Congress, a decades-old worry about foreign land ownership has spiked since the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon last month after it traversed the skies from Alaska to South Carolina.