Press Release

Asian American community and allies rally against Florida’s anti-Chinese land law after court hearings

Image for Asian American community and allies rally against Florida’s anti-Chinese land law after court hearings
Bethany Li, legal director of AALDEF, speaks at a rally following the hearing for the Shen v. Simpson case challenging Florida's SB 264, an anti-Chinese land law barring many Chinese immigrants from buying homes in the state. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit heard oral arguments Friday morning in Miami, Florida. Credit: Stuart J. Sia/AALDEF.

Court heard oral arguments in the case against Florida’s anti-Chinese land law.

MIAMI, FL— Today, a coalition of Asian American organizations, community members, elected officials, and allies held a rally in opposition to SB 264, a Florida law banning many Chinese immigrants from buying homes in large swaths of the state. The rally was held immediately following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

“Equating individuals with the country of their birth is a dangerous practice,” said Echo King, President of the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance. “SB264 in the 2023 Florida legislation unfairly discriminates against Chinese citizens, including long-term Florida residents, in property purchases. The law is unconstitutional, ambiguous, and harmful to the Florida real estate industry. Asian communities in Florida are outraged, saddened, and fearful, seeing parallels to the historical Chinese Exclusion Act.”

In February, the court temporarily halted the enforcement of the law, unanimously holding that the plaintiffs showed a substantial likelihood of prevailing in their arguments that SB 264 is preempted by federal law because Congress has already established a system of national security review of real estate purchases by foreign nationals.

A similar but less restrictive rule also applies to many immigrants from Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Syria. But the law singles out people from China for especially draconian restrictions and harsher criminal penalties.

“Florida’s SB 264 is a relic from a long history of similarly racist land laws in this country that were wrong then and are wrong now,” said Bethany Li, Legal Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). “This law targets Chinese people in clear violation of the Constitution, and its chilling effect reaches even further, hurting all Asian Americans who call this country home.”
“Chinese Americans are sick and tired of being pushed around like second class citizens. We will fight for our rights everywhere we go. We will see you this year at the ballot box,” said Haipei Shue, President of United Chinese Americans (UCA).
“At the heart of the American dream is the promise that everyone — no matter who they are or where they come from — has the right to buy a home, start a business, and call this nation home,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate. “By restricting home ownership for Chinese and other immigrants, SB 264 flies in the face of our nation’s values, while fueling anti-Asian racism against immigrant families in Florida and across the U.S. Defeating this bill — and other anti-Asian land laws — will not just protect the civil rights of Asians in America. It will also send a message to Asian American communities nationwide that we are welcome here”
"Laws like these, passed in Florida, Georgia, and elsewhere, place immigrants under a cloud of suspicion. Instead of creating barriers and repeating the mistakes of the past, we should allow everyone to be on an equal footing to participate in the economy," said Jennifer Lee, Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta.

In the early 20th century, politicians used similar justifications to pass “alien land laws” in California and more than a dozen other states, prohibiting Chinese and Japanese immigrants from becoming landowners. These racist policies severely restricted economic opportunities for immigrants and exacerbated discrimination against Asian communities in the United States, before eventually being overturned in the courts and by state legislatures. Florida was one of the last states to repeal its “alien land law” in 2018.


For additional information, contact:

Stuart J. Sia, AALDEF,

Rose Lee, Stop AAPI Hate,

Hongwei Shang, Florida Asian American Justice Association,

Sin Yen Ling, Chinese for Affirmative Action,

James Woo, AAAJ-Atlanta,

Haipei Shue, United Chinese Americans,