Texas AG Backs Bill Restricting Foreign Adversaries’ Land Purchases

According to an exclusive report from the Daily Caller, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is advocating against allowing foreign adversaries to use straw buyers, agents who make purchases on behalf of those with less buying power, to acquire land in Texas. This follows efforts by Republican Texas lawmakers to ban associates of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing state land through legislation being considered in the state Senate. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has also signaled his support and willingness to sign such legislation.

Paxton expressed his belief that not only should foreign adversaries be prevented from purchasing land directly but that straw buyers should be targeted as well. In the interview with the Daily Caller, Paxton stated, “Whether it’s the actual government or individuals or companies, who are sent over to sort of hide who they are. If they’re connected to governments that seek our destruction, we have to protect ourselves and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that.”

Opponents of the Texas initiative argue that it is racist to target citizens of certain countries. However, the bill has been amended to exclude prohibitions on citizens or legal permanent residents of those countries. In response to these concerns, Paxton said, “Look, you can always bring up race in this type of discussion. The fact is there are certain countries that are unfriendly to us, and they consider us enemies to be destroyed.”

Highlighting the need for this legislation, Paxton emphasized the duty to protect American citizens from potential harm. Chinese land ownership in Texas, for example, is the largest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The bill, proposed by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R), would ban governments, citizens, and entities from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing land in Texas. The bill’s proponents, including Governor Abbott and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, have cited concerns about foreign governments acquiring farmland and other property in the state.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), both potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates, have also called for barring some property purchases by Chinese entities this year.

Addressing concerns about the bill’s impact on U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, Kolkhorst stated that the prohibitions do not apply to them. However, State Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston and born in China, likened the bill to previous anti-Asian federal policies, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

The issue of foreign homebuyers in Texas, including those from China, has also drawn attention. The Austin Board of Realtors reported that Chinese homebuyers made up 6% of international homebuyers in Central Texas from April 2021 to March 2022. According to spokesperson David Gibbs, the trade association Texas Realtors is closely monitoring the issue.

In advocating for the legislation, Paxton and other Texas officials have emphasized the importance of protecting the state and its citizens from potential threats posed by foreign adversaries seeking to acquire land. The bill aims to balance national security and avoid discrimination against individuals based on their country of origin.