Federal and State Bills Prohibiting Property Ownership by Foreign Individuals and Entities

An ongoing onslaught of federal and state legislation prohibiting property ownership by citizens of foreign countries (i.e. “alien land laws”) has raised alarm throughout the Asian American community. In response, Committee of 100 has created a database and interactive data visualization tool intended to help individuals and organizations identify and track related legislative activity.

Committee of 100 believes that passage of bills prohibiting property ownership by citizens of foreign countries would legitimize harmful and xenophobic claims about immigrants that would exacerbate rising anti-Asian violence that has negatively affected U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike. Should they take effect, these laws would also disproportionately affect a wide range of people of color living in the United States; most of the countries targeted in this legislation are majority non-white.

The map below illustrates legislative activity in 2023 by state governments and Congress pertaining to prohibition of property ownership by foreign citizens, businesses, and government entities, especially those related to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The bills below prohibit a wide range of individuals from owning various types of property. For instance, some provisions include citizens of any foreign country, citizens of countries deemed a foreign adversary by the federal government, while others specifically target Chinese citizens. Some legislation pertains to businesses with significant ties to the PRC or PRC governmental entities. Other legislation prohibits ownership of all property, or forbids ownership of agricultural land, state-owned land, or land near military facilities, much of which is already regulated by federal laws. The dropdown menus above the map allow users to filter among these provisions included in legislation. Clicking a state (or “US,” which refers to federal legislation considered by the US Congress) provides a detailed summary of all legislation considered by that state. The tabs above the map allow users to view legislation that has passed or is currently under consideration in 2023.

 

Here are some key takeaways from our research.  In 2023…

  • 121 bills limiting or prohibiting property ownership by foreign citizens and/or entities were considered by 36 states (113 bills) and Congress (8 bills)
  • Of the 121 total bills, 18 passed and were signed into law in 15 states
  • Of the 121 total bills, 77 were considered that explicitly mention or target Chinese citizens
  • Of the 77 bills that explicitly mention or target Chinese citizens, 5 passed and were signed into law in 5 states

The following glossary broadly defines the terms used in the bills examined here.  For a given bill, a term may be used more narrowly to refer to a specific set of entities or properties (e.g. “companies” may refer to particular business entities defined in the legislation).  Please use the “full bill text” hyperlinks displayed in the “state bills summary” window to understand how a given bill uses and defines terms. 

Glossary 

  • Foreign governments, entities, and individuals: all foreign governments, entities, or citizens not from the United States or its territories 
  • Foreign Adversaries: foreign governments or non-government persons who have “engaged in a long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or security and safety of United States persons and, therefore, constitute foreign adversaries,” (https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-15/subtitle-A/part-7/subpart-A/section-7.4) as determined by the United States Secretary of Commerce 
  • Countries of particular concern: countries that have “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom,” (https://www.state.gov/countries-of-particular-concern-special-watch-list-countries-entities-of-particular-concern) as determined by the United States Department of State
  • Sanctioned entities: entities and individuals covered in the United States Department of the Treasury’s Sanctions Programs (https://ofac.treasury.gov/sanctions-programs-and-country-information).  To note, the People’s Republic of China is not covered as a country among these programs; instead, specific Chinese military-industrial Complex companies are covered
  • PRC citizens: a citizen or national of the People’s Republic of China 
  • Permanent U.S. residents: PRC citizens with permanent resident status in the United States 
  • PRC companies and organizations: businesses, companies, corporations, or organizations that are: 1) headquartered in the People’s Republic of China, 2) controlled by the government of the People’s Republic of China, 3) owned or controlled by citizens of the People’s Republic of China; or 4) owned or controlled by a company, organization, or entity described in points 1-3 
  • PRC government and entities: the government and governmental entities of the People’s Republic of China, where a governmental entity is an entity that is sponsored, funded, controlled, or owned by the state 
  • CCP members and companies: the Chinese Communist Party, its members, or companies controlled or owned by the Chinese Communist Party 
  • All property: any type of land or real property 
  • Commercial or not for personal residence: commercial property; property not used as an individual’s primary residence 
  • Agricultural or natural resources: land used for agriculture, mineral mining, water infrastructure, or other related purposes 
  • State land: land owned by the state 
  • Near federal land or critical infrastructure: property located on or near federally owned land or critical infrastructure 
  • Near military facilities: property near military facilities or installations 
  • Of a certain size: land larger than a certain size determined by legislation  

 

 

See anything incorrect, or know of new legislation that hasn’t been included? Email Committee of 100 researcher Sam Collitt at scollitt@Committee100.org.

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