Houston Matters

Houston Rep. Wu says legal challenge likely if land purchasing ban passes Texas Legislature

A Republican-led proposal to ban citizens, entities and governments and from certain countries to purchase land in Texas is raising concerns among some lawmakers.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Listen

To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="https://embed.hpm.io/442119/442142" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>
X

There has been pushback against SB 147 – which would prohibit governments, companies or citizens of China, Iran, North Korea or Russia from buying property in Texas.

The bill was filed by State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who told Houston Matters with Craig Cohen in a statement, “As I have traveled across my senate district one of the top concerns from many Texans is national security and the growing ownership of Texas land by certain adversarial foreign entities, such as the 130,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio that was recently purchased by a former officer of the Chinese army. Many Texans find this trend highly disturbing and a major red flag. This bill addresses a national security issue and will preserve our cherished private property rights and constitutional freedoms. It does not prohibit foreign business investment in Texas because companies may still do business by leasing lands and buildings.”

On Monday, state and local officials held a press conference to denounce the bill. State Representative Gene Wu spoke to Craig Cohen on Tuesday, and said the state senate already passed a bill that bans foreign governments from owning land in Texas. He said this proposed bill includes “every person who is in line waiting for American citizenship.”

“You have people waiting in line for a decade or more, lawfully waiting to become a United States citizen, they can’t buy a house,” he said. “They can’t start a business.”

Wu said there may be some valid concerns about national security, but those issues are being handled on a federal level.

“We have a national security agency, a central intelligence agency, and the U.S. military to deal with national security,” he said. “The state of Texas can barely respond to a mass shooting.”

Wu said many people were unaware of it until Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about it.

“It was a shock to the community, because every person in our community who is now a U.S. citizen, understands how long it took to get to the place to where they became a citizen,” he said. “And all of them started building their lives while they were waiting, including my own family.”

Wu said this law sets out a dangerous precedent.

“It says everyone in Texas is equal, but there are some here who are less equal,” Wu said.

Wu said there is an ongoing political need to demonize the U.S.’s relationship with China.

“There are serious concerns,” he said. “But the issue is to understand the difference between China the government, and people coming from China.”

Wu said he would anticipate a court challenge if the law was to pass.

“These type of laws where you treat people of a certain ethnicity or national origin different from people of other nations, those violate the constitution in a number of ways.”

Today in Houston Newsletter Signup
We're in the process of transitioning services for our Today in Houston newsletter. If you'd like to sign up now, fill out the form below and we will add you as soon as we finish the transition. **Please note** If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you do not need to sign up again. Your subscription will be migrated over.