HOUSTON — On Sunday a rally is scheduled in Austin against the controversial Senate Bill 147.
Among other things, the bill would ban legal residents from certain countries from buying real estate. Critics said that would unfairly impact tens of thousands of legal residents in the Lone Star State.
Stop by downtown Houston’s Spicy Girl restaurant and the kitchen is busy slicing, frying and cooking up a good meal. It’s all in a day’s work for owner Jo Jo Wang.
“I have five restaurants right now. They are doing OK," she said.
What does ‘OK’ mean? Wang said her total revenues are more than $5 million dollars a year and she employs over 70 people. All should be good, but Senate Bill 147 has her steaming.
“I cannot even sleep the whole week after I learned about the bill," Wang said.
Authored by Republican State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst from Brenham, the measure includes prohibiting citizens of China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from buying real property in Texas.
That includes Wang. She emigrated from China nearly 30 years ago, went to high school in the U.S. and is a green card holder.
“If I cannot buy a house, it's not fair. We are working hard like other peoples," she said.
Wang said she has kept her Chinese citizenship to make visiting family easier and to avoid communist government backlash.
“If this bill passes what do you think that says about this country?” KHOU 11's Shern-Min Chow asked her.
“The whole world will see it. It's not about Texas. It’s America. They are putting politicians’ personal preference above the law. It’s just a couple of people that have this thinking," Wang answered.
Kolkhorst was unavailable for an interview and sent KHOU 11 a statement that said the bill will eventually make clear it does not apply to lawful permanent residents. However, her staff admitted on the phone, the bill, as it stands, makes no such distinction.
Wang said she believes Chinese folks need to speak up despite often being culturally quiet.
“Take whatever you give us, we survive. I hope this is not the beginning," she said.
She slipped into her native Mandarin, saying she worries if SB 147 passes, it will lead to prohibitions against Chinese green card holders on owning businesses, college admissions and ultimately even getting a job.
So, this Spicy Girl is on fire and ready to fight.