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Oklahoma could soon get version of controversial Texas immigration law

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced in a Wednesday press release his intent to propose legislation aimed at empowering local law enforcement officers to arrest and deport people they suspect are in the country without legal permission. The announcement follows a Supreme Court decision allowing a similar policy passed in Texas to remain law despite a constitutional challenge by the Biden administration.
Lionel Ramos
/
KOSU
House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced in a Wednesday press release his intent to propose legislation aimed at empowering local law enforcement officers to arrest and deport people they suspect are in the country without legal permission. The announcement follows a Supreme Court decision allowing a similar policy passed in Texas to remain law despite a constitutional challenge by the Biden administration.

Texas’ Senate Bill 4 empowers local police to arrest people suspected of living in the country illegally and deport those who are. It also allows judges to order people be deported to Mexico, regardless of what country they were born in, or face time in prison.

McCall wants to bring that to Oklahoma.

In a press release Wednesday, he said every state in the country is now a border state, thanks to Biden’s permissive immigration enforcement policies. The message echoes that of Republican lawmakers in Texas, which actually is on the border with Mexico.

“Oklahoma is a law and order state, and should be the last place illegal immigrants want to settle when they cross over the border,” McCall said. “For those reasons, and in light of recent court rulings regarding Senate Bill 4 out of Texas, I am immediately introducing legislation to secure the borders of Oklahoma in the same fashion as our neighbors to the south.”

That announcement came an hour after Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond issued his response to the Supreme Court's ruling. In a press release, Drummond called on state lawmakers to quickly propose similar state-level border enforcement policies, following the decision.

Drummond also echoed lines well rehearsed by Republicans who are critical of Biden's immigration policies, adding that safety is his primary concern.

“Public safety is my paramount concern,” Drummond said in a statement. “Oklahoma state, county and local law enforcement know all too well the impact of the nation’s porous border. The Biden Administration has failed to secure our border, leaving us to suffer the consequences. If the federal government won’t do its job, then it is imperative that Oklahoma be allowed to protect our citizens.”

Republican leaders are counting on the Supreme Court setting precedent, allowing state legislatures to pass laws enabling local police to act like federal immigration officers.

Standing in the way is a local federal court in Texas that blocked the law from taking effect Tuesday night, hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, making it legal.

Following a Wednesday morning hearing, the law will stay on hold while a federal appeals court deliberates the legal questions it poses.

“The Supreme Court may well be poised to set new precedent allowing state law enforcement to act,” Drummond said. “If and when that day comes, I want Oklahoma to be prepared with a robust law that empowers local law enforcement.”

This legislative session is packed with an anti-immigrant sentiment shared by some members of the House Republican caucus, who’ve introduced a slate of bills targeting Hispanic Oklahomans as potential terrorists and limiting their access to government services.


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Copyright 2024 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Lionel Ramos