AUSTIN — Members of several Texas caucuses and legislative groups pushed back against a senate bill that seeks to ban governments, citizens and businesses from China, North Korea, Iran and Russia from buying land in Texas.
Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Texas House Democratic Caucus and The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus were present at the press conference Wednesday.
“We need to do everything possible in our power to climb up that ladder, not to push Texans off that ladder to poverty, insecurity, or fear,” said state Rep. Suleman Lalani, D-Sugar Land. “We are the neighbors and friends. We are the doctors. We are the entrepreneurs. We are the taxpayers. We are in government. This is our home. We contribute not only to the social economic fabric of Texas but also a spiritual cultural intellectual contribution that is made by immigrants.”
Senate Bill 147, filed by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican, would ban a governmental entity or company where they are headquartered in one of the listed countries or where a majority of the stock owners are from those four countries from acquiring property in the state.
Most concerning to state lawmakers at the press conference, however, was that it would also disallow individuals from those countries who may be living in the United States legally but are not yet citizens from purchasing property.
Gov. Greg Abbott also said in a Tweet that should the bill pass, he would sign it.
For Lalani; state Rep. Gene Wu, of Houston; state Rep. Salman Bhojani, of Arlington; and others who are immigrants themselves or the child of immigrants, the bill would have banned their families from putting down roots in Texas.
Bhojani, who emigrated to the United States from Pakistan at the age of 19, said the bill is contrary to the principles that America was built upon.
“As a kid I was always told that the United States of America is a place where dreams are made, where anyone can come work hard and have a life of prosperity and happiness, but SB 147 compromises the promise of the American dream,” he said. “What starts in Texas changes the world. Where our legislature goes, the entire country follows, which is why this legislation is so troubling.”
Wu added that last session, lawmakers passed a similar bill which Wu supported, that essentially did the same thing but focused specifically on governmental entities and companies. This bill however, takes it a step further and targets individuals.
Lawmakers present at the press conference vowed to do what it takes to make sure the bill does not move forward.
“(The bill) sets a dangerous precedent to take a blanket one sentence, overall protection for all people to say: we are all equal … except you,” Wu said. “That sends a dangerous message not only to our individual communities, but it sends a dangerous message to the broader community who has helped regenerate an increased rise, a rapid rise in anti-Asian hate and violence.”
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