Home Immigration Law Georgia Governor Signs Law Restricting Land Sales to Certain Chinese Citizens

Georgia Governor Signs Law Restricting Land Sales to Certain Chinese Citizens

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Georgia Governor Signs Law Restricting Land Sales to Certain Chinese Citizens

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill Tuesday that restricts the ability of some Chinese citizens to buy land in the state.

The bill, SB420, mirrors measures that have already been enacted into law in numerous other states. It bans any “agent” of China from buying farmland in Georgia or commercial land near military installations.

Democrats in the state legislature had sharply criticized SB420 as discriminatory, but at a ceremony to sign the law in the southern city of Valdosta, the Republican governor praised it as a national security measure.

“We cannot allow foreign adversaries to control something as vital to our survival as our food supply,” Kemp said.

Critics said the measure — and similar measures — reflected xenophobia and would harm immigrant communities.

“By signing this bill, Governor Kemp is shirking his responsibility to protect the equality, civil rights and constitutional right to due process of all Georgians and instead engaging in anti-Asian scapegoating and anti-immigrant scaremongering,” said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Georgia Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that fights discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The law prohibits agents of China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Russia, who are not U.S. citizens or legal residents, from owning farmland in Georgia or any commercial land in the state that is within 10 miles of a military installation because, they have spent at least 10 miles of them living in Georgia for 10 months of the previous year.

Although the measure targets other countries, much of the discussion about it among lawmakers at the Capitol focused on China.

To be an agent, the person must act on behalf of the country. The ban also extends to businesses in these countries, but does not apply to residential properties.

Other critics warned that the bill could face legal hurdles.

“Over time, we will see that this bill overrides federal law and violates people's constitutional protections,” said Thong Phan of the Atlanta chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

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States like Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas passed similar bans last year. Democrats also expressed concerns about Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland and supported measures to address it.

The laws gained traction after a Chinese spy balloon suspected by authorities flew over the United States and Chinese-linked companies bought land near military bases in North Dakota and Texas.

Kemp also signed several other bills on Tuesday, including one that would ban the sale of CBD and other consumable hemp products to anyone under 21 and require manufacturers of those products to measure and report the amount of THC and other compounds they contain. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

A second measure increases penalties for people who make or sell drugs laced with fentanyl that result in a person's death. Under SB465, they would be subject to a felony charge of aggravated involuntary manslaughter.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is often added to other medications and has become a leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States

The Georgia bill is named after Austin Walters, who died in 2021 after taking a pill laced with fentanyl.

“Austin's law will help save the lives of Georgia citizens by putting a stop to the criminals who traffic these deadly substances,” Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones said in a statement after the bill was signed.

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