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Asian Community Hopes to Pass Amendment One

October 30th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

Amendment one on this years ballot may be one of the least understood amendments for voters. It seeks to eliminate a part of the states constitution which says aliens ineligible for citizenship, cant own property in Florida. Because of a court ruling, the provision hasnt been enforceable for more than 50 years, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, removing the wording is a point of pride for Asian Americans.

The Alien Land Law originated right after the turn of the 20th. Clyde Diao, President of the Tallahassee Asian Coalition, says people at the time were worried about what the men who built the transcontinental railroad would do after it was complete.

It was intended to really prohibit a lot of the Japanese farm workers to own farm lands, because they were so efficient, Diao said. And the local boys were kind of worried about it.

At the time, only blacks and whites were eligible for citizenship.

Todays reality is that many people of Asian descent own property and are very successful. Lucy Ho is a well know Tallahassee restauranteur. The first she ever heard of the prohibition was when we told her.

The American beauty is that if you work hard, youve got it. You know? Thats why I like this country, Ho said.

Lucy counts a former attorney general as a friend, and on this day, the Governors Chief of Staff was lunching in the restaurant she owns.

Amendment One is one of the least understood amendments on the ballot. For Lucy Hos sake and the sake of many others, it was a good thing it was never enforced.

Many in the Asian community worry the provision will stay in the constitution because of a lack of understanding.

Its not good for Florida, its not good for the people of Florida, Diao said. Not only that, its the state that has, in fact, the Alien Land Law in the constitution right now.

Removing the racist and unconstitutional provision will require a yes vote by 6 of every 10 voters.

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