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Alabama Property Protection Act said ‘discriminatory’

Legislation to ban Chinese citizens and entities from purchasing property in Alabama has been called discriminatory by organizations and lawmakers.

The Alabama Property Protection Act Alabama passed Tuesday 73-23 with 6 abstentions in the Alabama House of Representatives and goes to the Senate for consideration.

The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at the University of Alabama called the bill an “unjustifiable discriminatory act.”

“Our community thinks this legislation is discriminatory. Our community is taking actions to fight this bill,” said Shengting Cao, former vice president of the association and its spokesperson. “We believe the USA is a free country and every legal resident should have the right to purchase land or properties.

“Banning Chinese citizens from purchasing property will negatively affect the business environment in Alabama while there is no benefit from it.”

Cao believes the ban would also negatively affect Chinese students’ ability to contribute to the university.

“There are many brilliant Chinese students and faculties studying, researching and teaching in the University of Alabama,” Cao said. “Those Chinese create patents for the university, bring millions of funding support, start businesses and offer jobs to local American students.”

Rep. Thomas Jackson is also against the legislation. His district is home to Golden Dragon Copper, a Chinese-owned business.

“I think we’re doing them a disservice when we try to penalize their movement or activities or purchase of land,” Jackson (D-Thomasville) said.

Cao also said that there is concern the bill will give Americans the wrong opinion of Chinese citizens.

“I also think this bill gives American society a strong implication that Chinese citizens have damaged the social and economic environment,” Cao said. “But the fact is the opposite. This ‘anti-Chinese’ bill created an unjustifiable discriminatory act.”

The bill was introduced by Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle) who said  Chinese acquisition of Alabama land could pose a threat to national security.

“Just in the last year alone, China has purchased over $6 billion worth of property in the United States,” Stadthagen said. “With our military bases that we have in Alabama, that’s what prompted this.”

Rep. Rolanda Hollis, during a discussion on the House floor with Stadhagen, claimed the bill targeted a specific race.

“Please, representative, tell me how this bill is not targeting a certain race and how this bill is not violating fair housing and federal law,” Hollis (D-Birmingham) said.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 contains a provision widely known as the Fair Housing Act, which protects people from discrimination when renting or purchasing property on the basis of race, national origin and other factors.

The Alabama Property Protection Act makes no exceptions for those with dual citizenship in the United States and China. However, it does grandfather in Chinese citizens who have already bought property in Alabama. This will allow them to keep their property but not purchase more.

“They might not be U.S. citizens, yet,” Cao said. “But they still need houses for children and families.

“If they get banned from buying houses, they may consider a better state to dedicate their lives.”

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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