Illegal Immigration Has Become a State Crime in Oklahoma, Bill Passed in the House

After a tense debate, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday making illegal immigration a state crime, with one Democrat labeling it “extremist legislation.”

According to House Bill 4156, “impermissible occupation” is defined as a person knowingly and illegally entering and remaining in Oklahoma without first acquiring legal authorization to enter the United States.

Illegal Immigration Has Become a State Crime in Oklahoma, Bill Passed in the House

It passed its third reading with a majority of 77-20 and will now be considered by the Senate.

If enacted into law, illegal immigrants in Oklahoma would face a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail, a $500 fine, or both.

According to the bill, anyone found guilty must leave the state within 72 hours of being convicted or released from detention, whichever occurs first.

“This bill is a license to profile, to arrest people who are different, plain and simple,” said Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Oklahoma City. “According to the bill, these individuals are drug dealers, rapists, drug traffickers, and human traffickers. It paints a wide picture of humans as bad, subhuman, and unworthy.

Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said immigration was the new abortion issue and termed the bill “extremist legislation,” noting that border security and immigration concerns were federal issues.

“When the federal government abdicates its responsibility for our citizens’ safety, it is incumbent upon this body to pick up those responsibilities,” Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Tulsa, responded.

Rep. Arturo Alonso-Sandoval, D-Oklahoma City, complained that it provided no accommodations for illegal immigrants who had been in the state for a long period.

“There are current, undocumented Oklahomans that this bill completely ignores,” Alonso-Sandoval said. “These are people who have lived here for decades and paid millions of dollars in taxes. The approval of this law ignores the fact that undocumented Oklahomans contribute more than $26 million in taxes and offers no way to close the tax gap.”

Illegal Immigration Has Become a State Crime in Oklahoma, Bill Passed in the House

Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, described the bill as “common sense.”

“According to Joe Biden’s federal administration, 180 terrorists were discovered while attempting to enter the country via the asylum process. “Imagine how many people cross that border today,” added Echols. “And don’t tell me that claiming 180 terrorists were detained implies that you’re labelling everyone a terrorist. My third grader understands better, but that seems to be the level of political conversation in this country. To pretend that we are not in risk as a result of what is going on is ridiculous.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond defended the law on Thursday, dismissing claims of “race-baiting and political pandering” as a smokescreen.

“Where the federal government is failing, our state leaders are stepping up to solve the problem and protect Oklahomans,” he stated. “I thank Speaker McCall and Pro Tempore Treat for advancing HB 4156. I’m hoping that it will pass both chambers and be signed by the Governor as soon as possible.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a similar bill into law on April 10. A Texas legislation is currently being challenged in court. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard arguments on SB 4 earlier this month.

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