Oklahoma attorney general defends controversial immigration law as essential for public safety

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Oklahoma's attorney general has filed a response to the federal lawsuit that said a new state law unlawfully encroached on the federal government's power to regulate immigration.

The law, signed by Republican Governor Kevin Stitt in May, empowered state and local law enforcement officers to arrest immigrants suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. It was set to take effect on July 1.

The federal government sought an injunction to stop enforcement of the law.

In his response this week, Attorney General Gentner Drummond said the federal government's opposition to the Oklahoma law was based on “speculative assumptions about how HB 4156 will be implemented, spurious legal conclusions about the law’s underpinnings, and fundamental misconceptions about a state’s sovereign rights and duties in a federalist system of government.”

The Justice Department has filed suits to halt enforcement of similar laws passed in other states.

Oklahoma Attorney General, Gentner Drummond has filed a response to a federal lawsuit saying the state's new immigration law is essential for public safety.
Oklahoma Attorney General, Gentner Drummond has filed a response to a federal lawsuit saying the state's new immigration law is essential for public safety.

More: Feds sue Oklahoma over new immigration law, calling it constitutional violation

Drummond argues that Oklahoma's law is essential because failure by the Biden Administration to control the border has "imperiled public safety statewide."

“The damage to Oklahoma might have been ameliorated had the [federal] government made a priority of securing the country’s border. But an unprecedented crisis has been met with unconscionable inaction,” the attorney general said.

The consequence, Drummond said has been an invasion of the state by "Chinese crime syndicates and Mexican drug cartels."

“The border crisis has swamped Oklahoma with an unprecedented onslaught of criminal activity,” the state's filing reads. “It takes the form of ‘illegal marijuana grow operations, which have exploded in number in recent years.’ … It brings ‘fentanyl distribution, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking’ at the hands of ‘organized crime, such as drug cartels, [that] have no regard for Oklahoma’s laws or public safety.’  Oklahoma’s communities are being harmed and harassed, while its law enforcement officers are overburdened and overwhelmed.”

Drummond argues in his response that the state is not attempting to usurp the federal government's authority, but rather to assist it with the border crisis.

The new state law has drawn widespread criticism from the Hispanic community, and law enforcement authorities, including Oklahoma City's police chief, have expressed concern about its fair enforcement.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma AG Gentner Drummond says immigration law is essential