Local, state officials condemn proposed bill that forbids people, businesses from certain countries from owning Texas land – Houston Public Media

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media

Protesters gather in front of city hall to denounce SB 147.

A Senate bill filed in the Texas legislature that would ban the sale of land to people or entities with ties to certain foreign countries is facing repeal. State and local officials gathered in front of city hall Monday to denounce Senate Bill 147.

Senate Bill 147 filed by Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham in November 2022. Kolkhorst represents District 18, which includes parts of the Houston area. The bill would prohibit governments, businesses, and individuals with ties to China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from buying property in Texas.

“After an unprecedented rise in anti-Asian hatred across the nation, our communities continue to struggle not only against violence within our society, but also political persecution,” State Representative Gene Wu said in a statement. “SB 147 is discriminatory, hateful, and brings back painful reminders of laws passed a century ago that specifically prevented Chinese people from owning property, starting a business, or even the to marry someone they love.”

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Wu is an Asian-American who immigrated from China as a child. He said his family moved here to have a better life for themselves, not to be targeted.

What did my parents do to them, how is the danger, how did they do anything other than good jobs, pay taxes, and be good people around the community,” he said.

A prior statement released by Senator Kolkhorst said the bill addresses growing concerns about protecting Texas land from foreign government ownership.

Mayor Sylvester Turner was also present during the press conference. He said because Houston is a very diverse city, the bill would affect many individuals who immigrated here from those targeted countries.

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“Senate Bill 147 is just down right wrong,” he said. “It’s more divisive than anything else. Houston, the most diverse city in the United States, stands as one to say that we should all stand against 147 – this is not the way to start 2023.”

Opponents of the bill argued that it targets asylum seekers and green card holders, but a statement issued by Kolkhorst said the ban does not apply to US citizens and lawful permanent residents, also known as green card holders .

“It doesn’t prohibit foreign business investment in Texas, because companies could still do business by leasing land and buildings,” she said. “The bill will make it clear that the bans do not apply to US citizens and legal permanent residents – this has always been about common sense protections against the authoritarian regimes of Russia, North Korea, China and Iran, not those who are fleeing from tyranny. governments seeking freedom in Texas.”

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The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has shown support for the proposed bill through tweet last week he will sign the bill.

This bill comes after Gov. Abbott to sign the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act in 2021 – which prevents Texas governments and businesses from entering into contracts with foreign-owned companies including China, Iran, North Korea and Russia – as related to critical infrastructure.


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