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Oklahoma Senate passes bill making illegal immigration a state crime


(The Center Square) – The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill that would make illegal immigration a state crime.

House Bill 4156 makes “impermissible occupation” a criminal act, defined as a person willfully and without permission entering and remaining in Oklahoma without first obtaining legal authorization to enter the United States, according to the bill.

If signed into law, those living in Oklahoma as illegal immigrants would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Anyone found guilty would be required to leave the state within 72 hours following conviction or release from custody, whichever comes later, according to the bill.

“The southern border crisis has created a scourge of illegal activities, including an increase in fentanyl, human trafficking and crime in our communities because of the inaction and abject failure at the federal level to secure our borders,” Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said. “The Oklahoma Legislature is taking the necessary action to protect our citizens. Doing nothing is unconscionable and this legislation is the appropriate measure to keep Oklahomans safe and uphold the rule of law.”

The Senate’s eight Democrats voted against the bill.

“Immigrants make up seven percent of Oklahoma’s labor force, most often in hard-to-fill jobs in hospitality, agriculture, and construction,” said Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City. “They’re hard-working, contributing members of communities throughout our state. Oklahoma has 33,000 undocumented immigrants who pay about $26 million annually in state income tax. We’re already facing workforce shortages. How will we fill those jobs, or make up that $26 million? We need real solutions that put people over politics.”’

The bill passed the House last week.

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