'If You're Breaking The Law, We're Gonna Hold You Accountable:' State Legislation Over Border Control Covers First Hurdle

The legislation to criminalize illegal immigration in Oklahoma has passed its first hurdle. House Bill 4156 would create the crime of impermissible occupation, criminally charging anybody who is in the state illegally, and requiring them to leave Oklahoma within 72 hours.

Thursday, April 18th 2024, 3:29 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


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The legislation to criminalize illegal immigration in Oklahoma has passed its first hurdle.

House Bill 4156 would create the crime of impermissible occupation, criminally charging anybody who is in the state illegally, and requiring them to leave Oklahoma within 72 hours.

In a three-hour heated debate Thursday, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers agreed there is a crisis at the border.

However, the two chambers were not on the same page with a solution. “The state of Oklahoma, if given the opportunity, would shut down the border,” said Oklahoma State Rep. Jon Echols (R- Cleveland), Majority Floor Leader.

Republicans say a lack of action on the federal level to control the border has forced them to file their legislation on the state level. "If you're breaking the law, we're gonna hold you accountable,” said Echols. 

There were a lot of questions from House Democrats, about how the legislation would work logistically. Echols said it would allow local and state law enforcement to remove undocumented citizens from Oklahoma. 

“Somebody would have to be arrested for a crime and then caught being here illegally,” said Echols. 

“This is not a substantive solution to the immigration crisis, this is not policy focused, it's not solution focused, it's strictly focused on politics,” said Oklahoma State Rep. Arturo Alonso Sandoval, (D-Oklahoma City).

House Democrats debated and questioned the bill for a number of reasons. "If we see a mass exodus because of policies like this, how will we fill those essential roles in a time where we already lack the workforce?” questioned Alonso.

Echols says the state will fill the positions with people who are here legally. “I fear that people that look like myself will be stopped and detained and have to prove citizenship,” said Alonso.

“Nothing in this bill would allow that and I trust law enforcement to not do that,” replied Echols.

This legislation is similar to SB4 out of Texas, which was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. “When it is challenged, because I'm sure it will be challenged the court will understand the purposes behind the legislation,” said Echols.

The measure passed with a vote of 77 to 20 and will now head to the state senate where Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat is the senate author. “I’m proud to do something. I am proud to stand once again to stand up in the gap for the citizens in Oklahoma,” said Echols.

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