Foreigners, mostly Chinese nationals, are targeting a new law signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that prevents them from owning property in some areas throughout Florida.
Critics backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida say Senate Bill 264, approved by the Florida Legislature on May 4 and inscribed four days later, is so vague that it risks creating "Chinese exclusion zones."
The law states that individuals purchasing land within 10 miles of a military base, installation, or critical infrastructure must sign an affidavit saying they are not prohibited from doing so.
Additionally, after July 1, anyone "domiciled" in China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, or Venezuela and not considered a lawful U.S. resident falls into the category of those prohibited from ownership.
ACLU Florida filed an emergency preliminary injunction Tuesday in the federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida, specifically targeting the Florida Departments of Agriculture and Economic Opportunity.
"SB 264 fails to provide people of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to understand whether their property is subject to the law's prohibitions," the court filing read.
The group has specifically taken issue with a part of the law that explicitly prohibits Chinese nationals from owning additional property or buying more than a single parcel of two acres at least five miles from a military installation.
ACLU Florida lawyers have also argued the law contradicts existing federal standards and that vague language like "domiciled," "critical" infrastructure, and military "installation" is spurted throughout it.
"Disregarding the federal government's judgments regarding the appropriate approach to China and other foreign nations, Florida has adopted its own draconian regulation of land purchases," the lawyers wrote.
Judge Allen C. Winsor will eventually decide whether or not and how to respond to the document.
ACLU Florida initially went after the law in May, comparing it then to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the California Alien Land Law of 1913.
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