Citizens of countries that pose a national security threat to the U.S. would be banned from owning certain types of land in Texas under a bill that passed the state Senate on Wednesday.
The legislation targets any nation that has been named on the Director of National Intelligence’s National Threat Assessment for three years in a row. Four nations currently meet that criteria – China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
The original bill specifically named those four countries, but the final draft allowed for a country to be removed from the list in case they fall off the National Threat Assessment due to regime change or for any other reason. Lawful permanent residents and dual citizens will also still be allowed to buy land under the final version of the bill.
“Senate Bill 147 strikes the balance of national security – and the state is vital to our national security – while also allowing those that are seeking freedom, seeking asylum, fleeing these authoritarian regimes, to come here and live their lives and live the American dream,” Republican Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, who introduced the bill, told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican from Texas, speaks during a Texas Senate Committee hearing in Marshall, Texas. (Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The bill specifies that only land where foreign ownership would pose a threat is off-limits, such as agriculture, oil, timber, and mineral-bearing areas.
“Food security is national security. Oil and gas, our rare earth materials, timber – we need to be protecting that,” Kolkhorst said. “This is a national security issue. So that’s why I linked the prohibitions back to the national threat assessment.”
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Kolkhorst narrowed the bill down after hearing input from constituents and colleagues in the state legislature, but some lawmakers still contest that it goes too far.
“Even with the amendments offered, this legislation still takes away the rights of an entire class of people without due process and solely on the basis of their national origin,” Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat who represents parts of Houston, said in a statement on Wednesday. “National security is a serious issue, but if we are concerned about the actions of foreign governments, then legislation should only affect foreign governments and their agents.”
Other states have taken up similar legislation to stop hostile foreign governments from gaining a foothold in the U.S. by purchasing land.
The North Carolina House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday that would ban China, Russia, and other hostile foreign government from buying farmland or property near military bases.
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Multiple bills are currently being considered in the Florida legislature that would similarly ban the purchase of farmland by hostile foreign entities.
At the national level, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced a bill last month that would ban the Chinese citizens from purchasing farmland and real estate in the U.S., unless they were granted asylum as a refugee or were lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
“For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has been gobbling up American farmland and real estate,” Cotton told Fox News Digital in March. “At best, this submits American land and resources to China’s best interests, not America’s — at worst, these purchases serve as outposts for Chinese espionage campaigns against American businesses and military bases.”