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A group of Chinese Alabamians protests outside the state capitol to stop a bill dealing with property ownership by certain foreign citizens. (Jacob Holmes?APR)


Chinese Alabamians protest bill targeting property ownership by foreign citizens

The group said the bill still unfairly discriminates against Chinese individuals and promotes anti-Asian hatred.

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A bill that originally sought to prevent Chinese individuals from owning real property in the state underwent major changes in the Senate thanks in part to the concerns voiced by Chinese Alabamians at a public hearing.

More than a dozen Chinese Alabamians delivered a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey Monday to make it clear they still stand against the bill.

“We understand the importance of ensuring national security and support efforts from your office and the state legislation,” the letter states. “However, we believe (HB379) will NOT strengthen national security; instead it will do the opposite. We hope you will consider either vetoing this bill, or work with our State Legislators to incorporate our suggested changes.”

On the Senate floor, the bill was expanded to other “foreign countries of concern,” specifically North Korea, Russia and Iran, and amended to remove language on individuals and instead focus on governments.

Dr. Linyuan Guo-Brennan, executive member of the Central Alabama Association of Chinese Americans, said the changes were appreciated but don’t go far enough.

“Our greatest concern is that this bill will be like the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and will bring dramatic discrimination and division within our community,” Guo-Brennan said.

Dr. Yao Peng, a doctor at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, said the bill sends the wrong message.

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“If this bill were to become law, you will be sending out a message that people like me are not welcome,” Peng said.

The letter addresses concerns that the bill in its current form could violate the fair housing act, which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of national origin.

It also echoes the concerns that the bill could fuel anti-Asian racism.

“Chinese Americans have suffered racism and discrimination historically and consistently in the U.S. through enforced laws and policies. Labeling China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia in a law will result that individuals from these countries are treated unfairly based solely on their nationality or ethnicity implicitly. Policies should be based on objective criteria and individual circumstances rather than broad generalizations. The article with country labelling will intensify anti-Asian hatred and racial discrimination in Alabama and US, which will harm the wellbeing of our community members, affect talent recruitment at universities, hospitals, and other organizations, shrink the Asian business/investment, and present the whole state as an unwelcoming and exclusive place to live, work, and invest.”

The bill has passed both chambers of the Legislature but the Senate changes have not yet been concurred with in the House. 

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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