|For Immediate Release:
Date: January 12, 2024
|Contact: Rahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy
For Immediate Release
Date: January 11, 2024
Michelle Boykins, (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144
Louise Liu, (202) 657-7413
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC Applauds Removal of the Rounds Amendment from the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act
Discriminatory amendment would have prohibited certain foreign nationals, including Chinese foreign nationals, from owning land in the U.S.
WASHINGTON – Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian American Justice Center (Advancing Justice – AAJC) today commended lawmakers’ decision to strike S. 2226 § 1086 (Senate Amendment 813) introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND) amendment in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
If included, this discriminatory amendment would have effectively prohibited certain foreign nationals, including Chinese foreign nationals, from purchasing U.S. agricultural land — continuing the pattern of a nation-wide resurgence of so-called “alien” land laws that have been introduced in at least 27 states and enacted in at least eight.
A coalition of Asian American and allied organizations took swift and sustained action to oppose this amendment and urge lawmakers to take it out of the final conference report language.
The Rounds amendment is the continuation of a long legacy of unnecessary legislation that leads to harmful profiling of and violence towards the Asian American community. In America’s history such legislation unfairly targeted Asian Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries through anti-immigration laws, land ownership prohibitions, incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, and other efforts that sought to exclude members of the community. This racist and xenophobic behavior has continued from the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 to the murders of Sikh Americans and the racial profiling of Muslim Americans in a post-9/11 environment. Asian Americans are too often considered to be “perpetual foreigners.”
Approximately 27 organizations joined Asian American Advancing Justice – AAJC in submitting a formal letter to NDAA conferees Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed and Ranking Member Roger Ricker, as well as House Armed Services Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Adam Smith, urging them to “prohibit the inclusion of provisions that would effectively bar foreign nationals – including Chinese foreign nationals – from acquiring certain types of U.S. agricultural land.” The letter continued by encouraging them to “strike provisions that stoke racial animus, bias, and discrimination, as well as undermine Asian American participation in the Armed Services.”
John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Advancing Justice – AAJC said, “We are very pleased that Congress listened to the concerns from our communities and did not include this harmful amendment in the NDAA. We are not naïve to the legitimate and credible threats that the Chinese Communist Party has on U.S. national security interests when it comes to the issue of espionage, and we are certain that Congress and the federal government can take a more responsible and targeted approach to combating foreign malign influence that does not result in the racial profiling of our community members.”
“Like so many similar discriminatory laws and bills of this nations, the Rounds amendment would have ensnared innocent Chinese individuals because the language failed to meaningfully distinguish between entities from China and individuals from China,” said Joanna YangQing Derman, Director of Anti-Profiling, Civil Rights and National Security at Advancing Justice – AAJC. “We are proud to have worked with a strong coalition of partners to call out this discrimination and put Congress and the government on notice that we will push back on any bills that cause harm to our communities.”
“As an organization representing Iranian Americans, it is critically important to underscore that people are not their governments. Equating the two is what led to the creation of the Rounds amendment, and we will continue to combat legislation that seeks to enshrine blatant xenophobia and undermine civil rights. We are grateful to our multiethnic coalition and network of volunteers who worked tirelessly to advocate against this amendment until its defeat,” said Jamal Abdi, President of National Iranian American Council Action.
“The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and its affiliates across the country have worked to combat discriminatory anti-Asian alien land laws. They are a relic from the early 20th century and ought to remain in the dustbin of history. Instead of focusing on adversarial governmental entities, these bills instead target innocent individuals and wrongfully perpetuates harmful stereotypes about the loyalties of Asian Americans. While policymakers are free to address the legitimate national security concerns of the United States, they may not pursue discriminatory policies on the backs of the Asian American community,” said Priya Purandare, Executive Director of NAPABA.
“We commend the removal of the Rounds Amendment from the NDAA,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “Had this xenophobic measure been enacted, it would have contributed to the alarming surge in anti-Asian political scapegoating we’re seeing today. Policies like this fuel the harmful ‘perpetual foreigner’ trope that wrongly paints Asian Americans as outsiders and suspects in the country we call home — further stoking hate against our communities. We firmly believe that our leaders can and should address legitimate national security threats without resorting to measures that scapegoat entire groups of people and worsen anti-Asian racism and discrimination.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Visit our website at advancingjustice-aajc.org.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
NAPABA | 1612 K St. NW, Suite 300 | Washington, DC 20006 | www.napaba.org