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Oklahoma AG files response to federal lawsuit over HB 4156

Oklahoma AG files response to federal lawsuit over HB 4156

Oklahoma AG files response to federal lawsuit over HB 4156

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Gentner Drummond has responded to the federal lawsuit challenging a controversial new state law that would allow state and local authorities to detain and take action against undocumented immigrants.

The 44-page response outlines Drummond’s arguments against the federal lawsuit, which was combined with a lawsuit by Padres Unidos de Tulsa on June 5. The federal government is asking the judge for a preliminary injunction on the law created by House Bill 4156, making it unenforceable by the Oklahoma government as the case unfolds. If the federal government wins the case, the order would become permanent.

Drummond states that the federal government’s case is based on “speculative assumptions about how HB 4156 will be implemented, false legal conclusions about the law’s foundations, and fundamental misconceptions about a state’s sovereign rights and duties under a federalist system of government.”

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Similar requests for bans have been made by the federal government against legislation in Texas and Iowa. The Texas law has been imposed and cannot be enforced while the case continues to be litigated. A judge is still reviewing the order in Iowa.

Drummond argues in his response that the federal government has not made a strong enough case for a preliminary injunction and argues that the claims by both the United States and Padres Unidos de Tulsa lack good cause and that neither has merit to sue that HB 4156 has not yet taken effect.

The attorney general also says in a June 13 brief that HB 4156 does not conflict with federal immigration laws; rather, it allows standards set by federal laws to be applied at the state level. Drummond emphasizes the importance of immigration enforcement, pointing to illegal marijuana farms in Oklahoma, which he says are often occupied by illegal immigrants who are exploited for their labor.

“Oklahoma’s communities are being harmed and harassed while its law enforcement officers are overworked and overwhelmed,” the attorney general says in the brief.

HB 4156 is set to take effect on July 1. It criminalizes “unauthorized occupation,” making it illegal for someone who is not a citizen or legal resident to be in Oklahoma. The penalty for a first offense of “unauthorized occupation” is a $500 fine, up to one year in jail, or both. A second offense is punishable by up to two years in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both.

After release from custody, anyone arrested under this law would have 72 hours to leave the state.

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