Biden DOJ Sues Oklahoma Over Law Imposing Penalties On Illegal Aliens

FILE - Migrants wait to be processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, Oct. 19, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. A recent decline in arrests for illegal crossings on the U.S. border with Mexico may prove only temporary. The drop in January reflects how numbers ebb and flow, and the reason usually goes beyond any single factor. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, FILE)

The Department of Justice announced a lawsuit against Oklahoma over a law that makes it a state crime to reside in Oklahoma while in the country illegally, adding to a cavalcade of DOJ challenges to laws in similar states.

The DOJ has already sued Texas and Iowa over efforts to make it a state crime to be present in a respective state while in the country illegally, with the DOJ arguing that the federal government has sole authority for immigration enforcement rather than states.

With its lawsuit filed against Oklahoma in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Tuesday, the DOJ argues it is doing so to preserve its “exclusive authority under federal law to regulate the entry, reentry, and presence of noncitizens.”

The DOJ is seeking for House Bill 4156 to be declared unconstitutional under the supremacy clause and the foreign commerce clause and prevent the state from enforcing the law.

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

Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has vowed to defend the law, pushing back on a letter the DOJ sent them threatening legal action last week.

“One thing that has been glaring over the last 3.5 years is that the Biden Administration is only ‘committed’ to subverting the immigration laws of this country,” Drummond said in a letter to the DOJ last week.

“Your misguided demands ignore that Oklahoma has not only the sovereign right, but also the solemn legal obligation, to protect its own borders and its own citizens,” he added. “You are wrong about our law – and if the Biden Administration sues over it, I will vigorously defend Oklahoma and its people.”

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