Texas senator behind bill to ban Chinese property ownership says it may ‘prove even more significant’ after spy balloon

A Texas state senator, the author of a controversial bill to ban Chinese citizens from buying property in the state, made an association between her legislation and the Chinese surveillance balloon recently shot down in the U.S. And it has Asian American leaders concerned.

“This bill may prove even more significant in light of a Chinese spy balloon that traversed across the continental United States before being shot down by the US military just days ago,” Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican, said last week in response to a request for comment about her bill. “It is clear that national security concerns by everyday Texans continue to grow.”

Asian American leaders say Kolkhorst’s attempt to tie the property bill to the surveillance balloon are not only inane, but also harmful.

Asian Americans have been framed as “perpetual foreigners,” Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni said, and no matter how long they’ve been in the U.S., their allegiance to the country is constantly called into question. The trope reared its head with Covid-related anti-Asian violence, she said, and rhetoric around the balloon has the potential to reignite it.

“When there are issues — whether they be competition with other nation-states, economic insecurity, public health threats, or concerns about national security — then individuals in our communities get blamed and get scapegoated,” she said. “Policies then are directed at them as opposed to simply focusing on the foreign government.”

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