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The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma over a new immigration law that would fine and jail migrants who are in the state without legal documentation. The department maintains that the law violates the Constitution which gives the federal government jurisdiction over immigration and border control. The law also violates a clause in the Constitution that limits the power a state has to regulate the international movement of people. Republican-run states have been passing similar laws in an attempt to take immigration matters into their own hands, arguing that the Biden administration is not doing enough to control the southern border. The Justice Department has also filed lawsuits against Texas and Iowa for passing similar laws, which are currently on hold.

Oklahoma House Bill 4156, set to take effect on July 1, punishes noncitizens who enter the state without permission with fines and jail time. The bill states that it aims to protect the health, safety, welfare, and constitutional rights of the state’s citizens and argues that immigrants in the U.S. illegally could pose potential harm to residents. A first conviction under the law would result in a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a $500 fine, while a second conviction would be a felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Convicted individuals would also have to leave Oklahoma within three days of being released from jail. The Justice Department insists that Oklahoma must adhere to the Constitution and the framework adopted by Congress for immigration regulation and filed the lawsuit against the state.

Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who signed the bill into law last month and is named in the suit, has stated that the law was necessary because the Biden administration has failed to secure the borders and stand in the way of states trying to protect their citizens. State Attorney General Gentner Drummond, also named in the suit, has argued that Oklahoma had no choice but to pass the bill to combat an “illegal immigration crisis.” Supporters of the law believe that it is a powerful tool to combat foreign nationals who enter and remain in the country illegally and become involved in serious criminal activity. However, critics, such as the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma, have expressed concerns that the legislation is one of the most extreme anti-immigration bills in the country. They believe it will lead to racial profiling and force individuals from various communities of color into the criminal justice system.

The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Oklahoma aims to challenge the constitutionality of House Bill 4156, which would penalize noncitizens in the state without legal documentation. The department asserts that the law violates the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration and border control and infringes on the constitutional limits on a state’s power to regulate the international movement of people. Similar laws passed by other Republican-run states have faced legal challenges, with lawsuits filed against Texas and Iowa for comparable legislation. These laws have been put on hold pending resolution of the cases. The Justice Department’s actions demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that states adhere to the Constitution and Congress’s framework for regulating immigration.

The Oklahoma House Bill 4156, scheduled to take effect in July, would impose fines and jail time on noncitizens who enter the state without permission. Supporters of the bill argue that it is necessary to protect residents and combat an alleged illegal immigration crisis. However, opponents, such as the ACLU in Oklahoma, have criticized the legislation as extreme and likely to result in racial profiling. The provisions of the law, including misdemeanor and felony convictions for unauthorized entry, and the requirement to leave the state within three days of release from jail, have raised concerns about potential violations of individuals’ rights. The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department seeks to ensure that Oklahoma adheres to the Constitution and implements immigration policies within the boundaries established by federal law. Governor Stitt and State Attorney General Drummond have defended the law as a means to address immigration challenges and protect citizens, while critics warn of its discriminatory impact and legal consequences.

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