Justice Department Sues the State of Oklahoma over Anti-Immigration Law known as HB 4156

courthouse-1223279_1280The federal government has sued the state of Oklahoma in a new lawsuit seeking to block HB 4156 from taking effect, a new anti-immigration law that regulates the entry of noncitizens by detaining and fining migrants who are unlawfully present in the state.

The U.S. government filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on May 21st arguing that HB 4156 is unconstitutional because the federal government maintains exclusive jurisdiction over the subject of immigration and the status of noncitizens under the supremacy clause and foreign commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Oklahoma’s HB 4156 which was slated to take effect July 1st considers the unlawful presence of a noncitizen in the state to be an “impermissible occupation” and directs law enforcement officials to arrest and jail undocumented immigrants.

The law aims to protect the state’s citizens against undocumented immigrants who could “potentially harm” its residents. Under the law, a first conviction would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a $500 fine. A second conviction would rise to a felony and carry a sentence of up to two years in county jail and a $1,000 fine.

Those convicted would be required to leave the state of Oklahoma within three days of being released from county jail.

In attempting to enforce this law, the Justice Department argues that the state is circumventing established law and constitutional authority by trying to take matters into its own hands.

The Republican governor who signed the bill into law Kevin Stitt, placed the blame squarely on the Biden administration saying the bill was necessary because of the government’s refusal to secure our nation’s borders while standing in the way of state authorities.

Oklahoma’s attorney general Gentner Drummond echoed similar sentiments in defense of the bill saying, “This law is a powerful tool to combat those foreign nationals who enter and remain in this country illegally, and who become involved in serious criminal activity.”

In its own statement, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma countered that the law would inevitably lead to racial profiling and that state law enforcement officials not only lack the constitutional authority, but also the expertise to interpret and enforce U.S. immigration laws.

While the ACLU recognizes that the U.S. immigration system is broken, HB 4156 is not the answer to resolving the immigration crisis.

For more information about this lawsuit, please click here.

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