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Court Temporarily Blocks Florida Law Barring Chinese Citizens From Owning Property

A U.S. appeals court has halted the enforcement of a Florida law that bans Chinese citizens from purchasing property in the state, multiple news outlets reported.

The decision places the law on hold until the court rules on the merits of the case. The next step comes when the three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in April.

Last Thursday, the Federal Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found grounds to suggest that the law, known as SB 264, clashed with federal statutes. The preliminary injunction applies to two individual plaintiffs, Yifan Shen and Zhiming Xu, who were working with real estate firm Multi-Choice Realty on property transactions when the law was passed in May 2023. The court stated that the plaintiffs’ “recent and pending transactions create the most imminent risk of irreparable harm in the absence of a stay.” 

Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) President Jamie Tian applauded the court’s decision.

“This is an important step in having the law overturned,” Tian said in a statement. “Using national security as a misguided reason, Florida’s legislators and Governor wrongly targeted Chinese and other select groups of immigrants and their desire to purchase a home.”

The plaintiffs are represented by several law firms and civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), DeHeng Law Offices PC, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and the law firm Quinn Emanuel

Eleventh Circuit Judge Nancy Abudu criticized the new law, which restricts people from “Communist countries,” particularly China, from owning property in Florida.

“The statute’s language, the anti-Chinese statements from Florida’s public officials, and SB 264’s impact establish that the law is a blanket ban against Chinese non-citizens from purchasing land within the state,” Abudu said in a statement. “This prohibition blatantly violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection against discrimination.” 

The legal battle began in May 2023 when the ACLU initiated a lawsuit against the bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, arguing that it violated equal protection and due process guarantees under the Constitution. A district court judge denied an injunction request in August.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in several Republican-led states, including Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, are considering similar restrictions on Chinese citizens owning property, according to NBC News.

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