Oklahoma Just Became The Latest State To Take Immigration Enforcement Into Its Own Hands

Screenshot/YouTube/Gov. Kevin Stitt

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Jason Hopkins Immigration Reporter
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Oklahoma’s Republican governor signed a sweeping immigration enforcement bill into law, making the Sooner State the latest to confront the border crisis through legislative action.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 4156 into law on Tuesday, one week after the Republican-controlled legislature sent it to his desk. The law, which is set to take effect on July 1, makes it illegal to reside in Oklahoma without legal authorization to be in the U.S.

Those in violation of the law for the first time will be subject to a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $500 fine, according to the text of the legislation. A second or subsequent offense would be a felony, punishable by as much as two years in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. (RELATED: Flight Docs Reveal Which Cities Are Receiving Migrants Under Biden’s Parole Program)

All violators would be mandated to leave Oklahoma within 72 hours of being released from custody.

Stitt made clear why he felt the law was necessary, putting the blame squarely on President Joe Biden.

“We cannot sit idle as threats to our safety are on the rise due to the Biden administration’s complete failure to offer even minimal protections. We have an obligation to keep our communities safe,” the governor said in a press release. “And this bill will decentivize thugs from choosing Oklahoma as a place to operate criminal enterprises after having illegally come to our country through the southern border.”

Southern border fence. Shutterstock

Southern border fence. Shutterstock

The governor’s public statement also pushed back against accusations that the law would unfairly target the state’s Hispanic community, saying that Oklahoma is not a “stop and identify” state.

Stitt’s signature marks the latest in a growing wave of Republican states that are taking on immigration enforcement, a responsibility typically exclusive to the federal government.

Oklahoma lawmakers largely followed legislation signed into law last year by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, which would’ve allowed the state to arrest and deport those living in the country unlawfully. However, that Texas law is currently on hold after Biden’s Department of Justice filed a lawsuit, arguing such responsibility is reserved for federal immigration authorities only.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in March signed a bill that increases jail sentences for those living illegally in the U.S. and convicted of felonies or driving without a license. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill in April that largely reflects the Texas law.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in April signed a bill that mandates local law enforcement agencies cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Beyond passing legislation, a slate of GOP-led states have deployed their national guard troops to the southern border in solidarity with Texas.

Since 2021, at least 14 states have deployed troops to the southern border: Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Wyoming, and West Virginia. The deployment is largely assisting Texas’ Operation Lone Star, a campaign launched by Abbott to address the border crisis.

The wave of Republican-led immigration legislation follows an ongoing border crisis, with at least six million encounters taking place at the southern border since Biden took office.

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