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AG Column: Generally Speaking - April 2024

It’s time for state enforcement on illegal immigration

Every state in the Union is confronting the threat to public safety created by the Biden Administration’s utter failure to secure the border. Even so-called “sanctuary cities” have been overrun and overwhelmed, their elected leaders calling for action and reform. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the crush of illegal immigrants “will destroy New York City.”

If that is how the Democratic mayor of America’s largest city feels, imagine the chaos within the State of Texas — ground zero for border states. Their lawmakers took decisive action to confront the crisis, enacting Senate Bill 4. 

This new law authorizes Texas law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants and take appropriate action to protect their citizens. The logic is simple and undeniable: if the federal government refuses to enforce immigration laws enacted by Congress, then Texas will enforce immigration laws enacted by Texas.

I am currently working with attorneys general from across the country to help defend the Texas law from a Biden Administration lawsuit. Additionally, I have called on legislative leaders here in Oklahoma to pass a similar law so that we can apprehend illegal immigrants involved in the commission or promotion of a crime. I’m proud to say they have responded by filing House Bill 4156 that criminalizes the “impermissible occupation” of our state. 

In other words, if a foreign national does not have legal authorization to be in the country, then the new law would make it a crime for him or her to be present in the State of Oklahoma, permitting my agents to arrest those who are promoting illegal drug organizations and activities.

This authority would be a powerful new tool for law enforcement to protect our communities from the vast criminal element of illegal foreign nationals that has invaded Oklahoma. As a direct example, my Organized Crime Task Force would be significantly more effective.

One of the most dangerous consequences of a porous national border that has affected Oklahoma is an influx of organized crime. Mexican drug cartels and Chinese foreign nationals have established countless illegal marijuana grow operations across our state. These illicit facilities not only produce and distribute marijuana for the black market, many also deal in human trafficking, money laundering and the distribution of deadly opioids like fentanyl.

My Organized Crime Task Force works routinely with other state, federal, tribal, county and local law enforcement partners to drive illegal actors out of Oklahoma, but the saturation of the cartels is so out of hand that we need additional measures to combat the problem. If legislative leaders are successful in passing HB 4156, then my Organized Crime Task Force agents will be greatly empowered.

It is important to understand that HB 4156 is necessary to address foreign nationals who are committing crimes while in our country illegally. It would not impact legal immigrants who follow our laws and enrich communities throughout Oklahoma. You will likely hear a great deal of high-pitched squealing from liberals who favor open borders. I am confident that our Legislature will value public safety over political correctness.

I will continue doing everything in my power to protect my fellow Oklahomans. Passing HB 4156 is a much-needed step in the right direction.