Back steps of the Louisiana State Capitol. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted By Jenn
In Louisiana, state lawmakers are debating bills in the State House and State Senate – HB 537 and SB 91 – that would ban some foreign nationals from China, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea from owning or renting property in the state. Here I interview a member of the Chinese American community in Louisiana – who has chosen to remain anonymous – on what he feels are the potential impact of those bills.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. In Louisiana, bills were introduced in the State House (HB 537) and State Senate (SB 91) that would prevent foreign nationals from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela to own or lease property in the state. This would include anyone in the United States on a temporary work or student visa. Similar bills have been introduced or passed in Florida and Texas. How do you think such a ban in Louisiana would affect you, your friends and family, and/or your work?
Unfortunately, they will directly impact my family. For example, SB 91, in its current wording, will ban any leasing and purchasing of properties within a 50-mile radius of any military installations, and is retroactive. (Editors’ Note: Both HB 537 and SB 91 also make foreign-owned property subject to civil forfeiture.)
We currently own a house in Baton Rouge, where the entire city is within a 50-mile radius of the Armed Forces Reserve Center. This means the Attorney General can legally take our house away , and my family will not be allowed to purchase or lease a new home, whether in Baton Rouge or anywhere in Louisiana (almost the entire land of Louisiana is within a 50-mile radius of some form of military installation). I am afraid we will need to either sleep on the street or find a new job in another state.
My family also cares for international students and scholars from China, most of whom are living in rental properties temporarily. SB 91 also allows the Attorney General to legally take the properties away from them, and prevent them from renting a new place. HB 537 also has the same effect. Though the author claims the bill has excluded individuals, immigrant lawyers pointed out that is false due to the inaccurate wording. Most international students and scholars from China are still subject to HB 537.
To summarize, these two bills are devastating. They would be nothing short of an eviction order to my family and most of our international student and scholar friends.
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