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Supporters of SB 264 say they are protecting Florida, critics say it's discrimination

Posted at 6:19 PM, May 10, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This week, Governor Ron DeSantis passed three bills he said are aimed at stopping the Chinese Communist Party’s "influence in the state."  

One is called SB264.  

His administration calls it the strongest legislation in the nation to date, yet critics are worried this could lead to discrimination.  

Flanked by leaders in the Taiwanese community, Governor Ron Desantis, on Monday, signed a piece of legislation that was a hot-button issue in both the House and the Senate: SB264.  

“Today Florida makes it very clear, we don’t want the CCP in the Sunshine State,” shared the Governor during a press conference. “We want to maintain this as the free state of Florida, and that’s exactly what these bills are doing.”  

The bill has various components.

The first is not allowing a governmental entity at any level in the state to knowingly enter into a contract with a business from, owned, or operating in a foreign country of concern.  

The countries considered a ‘foreign country of concern’ are Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and China.  

It also does not allow any person who is from one of those seven countries, who is also not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the US, from being able to purchase or own any agricultural land in the state.

It also does not allow them to purchase or own land within 10 miles of any military installation or critical infrastructure.  

And specifically, individuals who were born in China and are not yet US citizens cannot purchase or own any land or building, commercial or otherwise, in the state.  

“It doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t serve any interest in national security,” stated Echo King.  

King is an immigration attorney and the President of the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance. For weeks, she and others were protesting this measure, only to have their biggest fears turned into a reality.  

“They are all scared, so it’s a mess,” shared King of community members she has spoken to.

She furthered, “Lots of people are trying to sell their house, and lots of people are moving out of Florida, thinking about moving even to Canada because they don’t know what’s going to happen in the US.”  

King also points out that the bill punishes those who knowingly sell the land described in the bill to someone of those seven countries. But she believes that won’t just hurt non-citizens but everyone in those communities.  

“Who is going to know that I am selling to a Chinese person or Korean? They have a similar last name. So how do I tell who to sell to? So, the easiest thing for them to do is just to do is stop selling to people like me with an Asian face, with an Asian name.”  

King said FAAJA is looking to file a lawsuit against the state, working with national civic firms to prove this legislation is unconstitutional.  

King, who is an American citizen, believes the passing of this bill will only incite more hate against Asian Americans.

“I’m American, I am just like everyone else, I pay my taxes, I work here, I raise family, my kids go to school. I never thought, until we get discriminated against, I think, 'oh the country is treating me differently,' but why?” asked King.  

She said, “I’m American, just like everyone else. So, this must be stopped.”  

But supporters said that the goal of this measure is to protect the state.

You can find the full text of the bill below.

SB 264 by ABC Action News on Scribd