China’s acquisition of American land is resulting in its greater direct presence within the country’s borders. To counter this trend, certain states are attempting to pass laws as a preventive measure. In Tennessee, a bipartisan group of politicians is working on a bill to keep China away from the state’s territory. Although their efforts are well-intentioned, discussions are being slowed down due to concerns about unintended negative consequences for particular ethnic groups.
The proposed legislation aims to prevent foreign entities that have already been subjected to sanctions from buying property, with nonresident aliens also being subject to the same law. The United States Department of Treasury (USDOT) maintains a list of foreign entities that are affected, including entire nations as well as specific organizations within those nations. This list includes countries such as China and Russia, as well as others such as North Korea, Iran, and Cuba.
The proposed bill is receiving support from some Tennessee Republicans as well as several Democrats, but there are concerns being raised by others who fear that the legislation could unintentionally prevent certain groups of people from buying properties. In particular, Nashville has a large and growing population of Kurds, and some Democrats are advocating for them to be allowed to purchase property even if the countries where they come from are subjected to sanctions in the future.
The region inhabited by Kurds is a geographically undefined area that includes parts of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Although Iran is already included in the list of sanctioned countries, many Kurdish people in Tennessee have served as translators for the American military and are on the path to becoming citizens. Democrats are concerned that the Kurdish people’s ethnicity could negatively impact their ability to own property in the future and want to ensure that their heritage doesn’t hinder their future prospects.
Certain Democrats are requesting a review of the bill to address the concerns raised and provide clarity on the matter. However, the GOP is more focused on safeguarding Tennessee farmlands and has stated that Communist China has significantly increased its land holdings since 2019. Despite the differences in priorities, there is sufficient support from both parties to pass the bill and send it to Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, who is anticipated to sign it into law.