Oklahoma lawmakers detail illegal immigration bill


(The Center Square) – Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday revealed details of a bill that would make illegal immigration a state crime.

The bill creates the crime of impermissible occupation if a “person willfully and without permission enters and remains in the State of Oklahoma without having first obtained legal authorization to enter the United States,” according to House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Greg Treat.

Anyone convicted of the crime the first time would be forced to leave the state within 72 hours of a date on the court order and banned from reentering the state. The first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $500 fine.

Second convictions are felonies with penalties of up to two years in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. The same requirements to leave the state and not return also apply.

The legislation, expected to be filed next week, also bans Oklahoma cities from becoming “sanctuary cities” that do not enforce immigration laws.

“I will not allow Oklahoma to become another border state, or be inundated with the issues that are being seen in states like New York and California,” McCall said. “Oklahoma citizens should not be footing the bill for those illegally in our country, and this legislation will make Oklahoma the least attractive state in the nation for illegal immigrants to come to. It is my hope that this common sense protection for our state’s border will pass the House and Senate quickly so we can get it signed by the Governor.”

Treat said the bill is necessary to keep Oklahoma safe.

“There is a clear pathway to citizenship, and we should know who we are allowing to come here legally,” Treat said. “With the influx of illegal immigration, we are seeing a scourge of violent gang members coming in who are bringing deadly drugs like fentanyl across the border and into Oklahoma.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a similar bill into law this week. A Texas law is being challenged in court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard arguments on SB 4 last week, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After the Supreme Court ruling, the appeals court reversed an earlier decision and ordered the hearing.

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