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Biden admin clashes with Oklahoma after the introduction of controversial Texas-alike migrant law: Lawsuit

After being involved in several lawsuits with the state of Texas in the last few months, the Biden administration is continuing its series of lawsuits with states led by Republicans, this time with Oklahoma. The latest development from earlier this week comes after the introduction of a controversial migrant law almost identical to the ones recently introduced by the Texas and Iowa legislatures, which already brought the Biden administration to federal court, challenging the laws as unconstitutional.

The migrant crisis

Oklahoma’s controversial migrant law is the result of the escalating migrant crisis in recent years after millions of migrants entered the country, most of them through Texas. Oklahoma leadership believes that the law, set to go into effect this summer, will stop the influx of migrants in the state, especially those who entered the country without legal authorization to be in the US.

The details

On Tuesday, the Biden administration initiated a lawsuit against Oklahoma over a recent law permitting local officials to detain migrants present in the state without legal status. This law, House Bill 4156, was endorsed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt in April, criminalizing unauthorized entry into Oklahoma. The Justice Department, having previously challenged similar laws in Texas and Iowa, claims that Oklahoma’s law is illegal under the U.S. Constitution.

“Oklahoma cannot disregard the U.S. Constitution and settled Supreme Court precedent,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “We have brought this action to ensure that Oklahoma adheres to the Constitution and the framework adopted by Congress for regulation of immigration,” he added.

Read also: Texas Gov. Abbott strongly committed to bringing NYC to ‘migrant catastrophe’: “Buncha hypocrites”

Biden admin sues Oklahoma over House Bill 4156, a law permitting local officials to detain migrants present in the state without legal status
Arrested migrants, Courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Facebook

Federal government claims authority

The Justice Department’s legal challenge asserts that Oklahoma’s law oversteps into areas meant to be controlled solely by the federal government, namely the management of noncitizens’ entry, reentry, and residence in the United States. Thus, the law is said to be overridden by existing federal law.

“HB 4156 intrudes on that scheme, frustrates the United States’ immigration operations, and interferes with U.S. foreign relations,” according to the federal government’s lawsuit.

This legal action was brought in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, naming Governor Stitt, Attorney General Gentner Drummond, and Tim Tipton, the Commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, as defendants. The contested law, which addresses what it terms as “impermissible occupation,” is set to be enforced starting July 1.

Read also: Biden admin to flood cities in California, N.Y., other states with migrants under new measure for asylum seekers

The charges

Under the new law, a first offense would lead to a misdemeanor, carrying a potential penalty of one year in jail and a fine of $500. Migrants found guilty of entering the U.S. illegally would then have to exit Oklahoma within 72 hours. Committing the offense a second time would escalate the charge to a felony, with possible consequences of up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

“I am disappointed this bill is necessary. Since President Biden took office in 2021, more than 10 million people have poured over the southern border,” said Gov. Stitt. “Countless individuals from across the globe, including thousands of Chinese nationals as well as people affiliated with terror organizations, have illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Oklahomans are concerned by who could be lying in wait for an opportunity to bring harm to our country.”

“My sole aim is to protect all four million Oklahomans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or heritage. I love Oklahoma’s Hispanic community and I want to ensure that every law-abiding citizen has the opportunity to pursue the American Dream. Let me be clear – there is no tolerance for racism or discrimination against any community in our state. I want our Hispanic community to rest assured that this law does not give law enforcement the authority to profile individuals or question them about their immigration status without reasonable suspicion of a crime,” Gov. Stitt added in the statement.

Read also: NYC declares open war on non-compliant migrants after Texas measure creates total chaos

Biden admin sues Oklahoma over House Bill 4156, a law permitting local officials to detain migrants present in the state without legal status
Credit: Deposit Photos

Lawsuits against Texas and Iowa

In May, the Biden administration took legal action against Iowa for a law that enables state authorities to detain migrants who have previously been turned away or deported from the U.S. Earlier, in January, the Biden Justice Department also filed a lawsuit against Texas. This lawsuit challenged a Texas law that gives state authorities the power to detain, incarcerate, prosecute, and deport migrants who enter the country outside of designated entry points.

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