DOJ Sues Oklahoma Over Law Punishing Illegal Immigrants


The Department of Justice announced a lawsuit against Oklahoma over a law that criminalizes residing in the state while in the country illegally, adding to a series of DOJ challenges to similar laws in other states.

The DOJ has already sued Texas and Iowa over state laws that also criminalize being present in the state while in the country illegally. The DOJ argues that the federal government holds exclusive authority over immigration enforcement, rather than the states.

With its lawsuit filed against Oklahoma in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Tuesday, the DOJ asserts its goal of preserving 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 to 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.”

Jack Birle
Jack Birle
Jack Birle is a breaking news reporter. A 2022 graduate of Villanova University with majors in communication and political science, he has previous journalism experience with the Center Square and as a fellow with the National Journalism Center. He was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Southern California.

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