When Buying a Home Is Treated as a National Security Threat – The New York Times

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A new Florida law prohibits many Chinese citizens from buying homes because of national security concerns. Critics say it has fueled discrimination and chilled the local property market.

After years of living in dorms and subpar apartments, Lisa Li could not wait to close on her new home.

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The one-bedroom condo in Miami’s financial district had a view of the river, was in a safe neighborhood and, Ms. Li heard, had neighbors who were much like her — less party, more chill. So Ms. Li, a 28-year-old who came to the United States 11 years ago as a college student from China, put in an offer, had her bid accepted and began ordering furniture.

Then things took a sharp turn. At the last minute, the title company raised concerns about a small United States Coast Guard outpost near South Beach a few miles away. Her purchase, the company said, might run afoul of a new Florida law that prohibits many Chinese citizens from buying property in the state, especially near military installations, airports or refineries.

Under the law, Ms. Li could face prison time, and the sellers and real estate agents could be held liable. The deal collapsed.

“The whole experience was very hurtful and tiring,” Ms. Li said in a recent interview at a cafe in Miami, where she is still renting. “I just feel that, as someone who has lived and worked in this country for many years, and as a legal taxpayer, at the very least I should have the ability to buy a home that I can live in.”

More than three dozen states have enacted or are considering similar laws restricting land purchases by Chinese citizens and companies, arguing that such transactions are a growing threat to national security and that the federal government has failed to stop Chinese Communist Party influence in America.

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