Local, state officials condemn proposed bill that forbids people, businesses from certain countries from owning Texas land – Houston Public Media

Ashley Brown / Houston Public Media

Protesters rally in front of City Hall to condemn SB 147.

A Senate bill filed in the Texas Legislature would prohibit the sale of land to people or entities with ties to certain foreign countries. State and local officials gathered in front of City Hall on Monday to denounce Senate Bill 147.

Senate Bill 147 Filed in November 2022 by Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham. Kolkhorst represents District 18, which includes parts of the Houston area. The bill would ban governments, businesses and individuals with ties to China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from buying property in Texas.

“After an unprecedented rise in anti-Asian hate across the nation, our communities will continue to fight not only against violence within our society, but also against political persecution,” state Rep. Gene Wu said in a statement. “SB 147 is discriminatory, hateful, and brings back painful reminders of laws enacted over a hundred years ago that specifically prevented Chinese individuals from owning property, starting businesses, or marrying the person they love.

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Wu is an Asian-American who immigrated from China as a child. He said his family came here for a better life, not for a target.

What my parents did to them, how they were at risk, what else did they do other than have a good job, pay taxes and be good around the community,” he said.

A past statement Senator Kolkhorst released that the bill addresses a growing concern in protecting Texas lands against foreign government ownership.

Mayor Sylvester Turner was also present at the press conference. Because Houston is a very diverse city, he said, the bill would affect a lot of people who immigrated here from those targeted countries.

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“Senate Bill 147 is right and wrong,” he said. “It’s more divisive than anything. Houston, the most diverse city in the United States, is one to say we all have to stand against 147 — that’s not the way to start 2023.”

Opponents of the bill argued it would target asylum seekers and green card holders, but a statement released by Kolkhorst said the ban would not apply to United States citizens and lawful permanent residents, also known as green card holders.

“It doesn’t prohibit foreign business investment in Texas, because companies can still do business by leasing land and buildings,” he said. “The bill makes crystal clear that the bans don’t apply to United States citizens and legal permanent residents — they’ve always been about common-sense safeguards against Russian, North Korean, Chinese and Iranian authoritarian regimes, not those fleeing oppressive governments seeking freedom in Texas.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott has shown support for the proposed bill Tweeting He will sign the bill last week.

The bill comes after Gov. Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act in 2021 — which prohibits Texas governments and businesses from entering into contracts with foreign-owned companies that include China, Iran, North Korea and Russia — related to critical infrastructure.



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