Oklahoma becomes latest state in court over illegal immigration, arguing it's a state issue

Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma are currently being sued by the Department of Justice over immigration legislation.

Published: July 6, 2024 10:53pm

Updated: July 7, 2024 4:42pm

Oklahoma is the most recent state facing a legal battle with the Biden administration on the issue of illegal immigration, with a federal judge blocking legislation that would make entering the country illegally a state crime. 

Oklahoma's House Bill 4156 makes it a crime to be in Oklahoma without legal status. The legislation was signed into law on April 30, but was blocked by a federal judge in June after the Biden administration filed a lawsuit against the state. 

The Department of Justice argued in its lawsuit against Oklahoma that the legislation was unconstitutional because it is the job of the federal government to enforce borders and regulate immigration. 

In his June decision, U.S. District Judge Bernard M. Jones took a similar stance, arguing that the Oklahoma law gives the state too much power and conflicts with the federal law.

Oklahoma Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond said he would appeal the decision. 

"While today’s court ruling is disappointing, I will not stop fighting for Oklahoma and our right to protect our borders," he said in a statement. "The Biden Administration’s complete failure to enforce federal immigration laws made House Bill 4156 a necessity. We intend to appeal today’s decision and defend one of the most powerful tools we have to fight the criminal activity largely being fueled by illegal aliens in Oklahoma.”

Other states have attempted to pass legislation to deal with illegal immigration, such as Iowa and Texas. 

Earlier this year, Texas passed a bill that would allow local police to arrest and deport illegal aliens if the federal government doesn't. After pushback and lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could enforce the law.

However, in March an appeals court ruled to block the law, arguing the statutes “significantly impair the exercise of discretion by federal immigration officials.” 

Iowa passed legislation similar to Texas in April and was sued by the DOJ in May as a result. 

“Iowa cannot disregard the U.S. Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department's Civil Division. 

“We have brought this action to ensure that Iowa adheres to the framework adopted by Congress and the Constitution for regulation of immigration," the statement continued. 

Louisiana has passed legislation that would allow police to detain those suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. As of now, the DOJ has not sued the state yet.

Tennessee has legislation that was signed back in April that would require local police to report illegal immigrants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This legislation took effect July 1. 

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said that this legislation is to help keep the state safe, according to local media.

“It’s important that the appropriate authorities are notified of the status of that individual. I think that makes sense,” he said. 

Illegal immigration has been a major issue for President Joe Biden as many Republican leaders have criticized his "open border" policies, saying they have caused harm to the country.


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