Oklahoma will become the latest state to criminalize illegal immigration — if Gov. Stitt gets on board

The Biden administration has proven unwilling or at the very least unable to prevent
millions of illegal aliens from stealing into the United States. Facing the fallout of the federal government’s failure to effectively enforce immigration law and secure America’s borders, Republican lawmakers across the country have begun empowering their respective states to pick up the slack.

Oklahoma is poised to become the latest state to criminalize illegal immigration, assuming Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) does not ultimately side with Democrats and future waves of illegal aliens on the issue.

The bill

The state House passed House Bill 4156 last week in a 77-20 vote along party lines. The state Senate followed suit on Tuesday, approving the bill in a 39-8 vote. The bill is now headed to Gov. Stitt’s desk for ratification.

HB 4156 would have the Sooner State recognize that a person “commits an impermissible occupation if the person is an alien and willfully and without permission enters and remains in the State of Oklahoma without having first obtained legal authorization to enter the United States.”

An illegal alien convicted of committing an “impermissible occupation” is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding one year and/or by a fine not exceeding $500. Additionally, an illegal alien convicted under the new law would be required to leave the state within 72 hours of his conviction or release from custody.

For repeat offenses, illegal aliens will be charged with felonies punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a heftier fine. Again, upon conviction or release — whichever comes first — unlawfully imported convicts will be sent packing.

The legislation stresses that the presence of illegal aliens inside Oklahoma “is a matter of statewide concern,” and as such, all local governments are to be barred from adopting sanctuary policies that conflict with HB 4156.

Gov. Stitt told Public Radio Tulsa last week, “President Biden is not using the tools in his belt to secure the southern border. So, yes, states are stepping up to say we’re going to make it very difficult to come here illegally, not follow our rules.”

“I’m not going to make a decision right now whether I’ll sign it or not,” Stitt said, days ahead of the state Senate’s successful vote on HB 4156. “There’s too many variables on what’s in the bill. Our team, we’ll look at it, and we’ll review that.”

The framing

Republican state Sen. Tom Woods
said in a statement, “I am proud to have taken this vote that will better protect Oklahomans and crack down on illegal immigration in our state.”

“The failed border policies by the federal government have made it necessary for states to take the law into their own hands and craft policies to ensure we know who is coming here and eliminate criminal organizations,” continued Woods. “The influx of illegal immigration has created a dire situation, and we are seeing an increased amount of illegal marijuana grows, drugs, and organized criminal activity that needs to be eradicated. This bill will give law enforcement the tools necessary to deport criminals.”

State Sen. Jessica Garvin (R), the first Hispanic woman elected to serve in the Oklahoma legislature, defended the bill, stressing it was incumbent upon those who seek to migrate to the United States to do so legally.

“My grandparents legally immigrated to the United States from Mexico and went through the naturalization process to become citizens,” Garvin
said in a statement. “Their journey is emblematic of the appropriate pathway to citizenship, and the majority of legal immigrants want others to come here through the proper channels as well.”

Democratic state Sen. Michael Brooks of Oklahoma City
blasted the bill, suggesting it would have been better to alternatively give state IDs or driver’s licenses to migrants “who comply with specific requirements, including paying state and federal income tax.”

Echoing the
recent suggestion by Denver’s Democratic Mayor Mike Johnson, who suggested that illegal aliens serve to provide businesses with an exploitable workforce, Brooks stressed, “Immigrants make up seven percent of Oklahoma’s labor force, most often in hard-to-fill jobs in hospitality, agriculture, and construction. … Oklahoma has 33,000 undocumented immigrants who pay about $26 million annually in state income tax. We’re already facing workforce shortages. How will we fill those jobs or make up that $26 million?”

Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R)
underscored that the “Oklahoma legislature is taking the necessary action to protect our citizens. Doing nothing is unconscionable and this legislation is the appropriate measure to keep Oklahomans safe and uphold the rule of law.”

The pattern

Whereas Democrat-run states and cities have in years past adopted sanctuary laws and policies at odds with federal immigration law, a growing number of Republican-run states are embracing laws and policies in the spirit of federal law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
ratified Senate Bill 4 in December, making illegal entry into the Lone Star State a class B misdemeanor and enabling state officials to deport illegal aliens. The law would have gone into full effect last month were it not for the meddling of the Biden Department of Justice, presently tying up the legislation in the court system.

“Four years ago, the United States had the fewest illegal border crossings in decades,” Abbott
said in a statement. “It was because of four policies put in place by the Trump administration that led to such a low number of illegal crossings.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R)
ratified a bill on April 10 enabling state police to arrest and deport certain illegal aliens. Reynolds reiterated, “The Biden administration has failed to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, putting the protection and safety of Iowans at risk.”

Republican legislators in the Louisiana Senate
passed Senate Bill 388 earlier this month. If passed by the state House and ratified, then illegal aliens caught by local authorities could face up to one year in prison and $4,000 in fines.

State Sen. Valarie Hodges (R)
noted on X, “It is imperative that, WE, as a State, protect our citizens in this time of invasion from the crime, drugs, and human trafficking that come with an open border.”

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