Red state AG pushes back against Biden immigration lawsuit: ‘We’re happy to fight you’

Oklahoma’s attorney general is pushing back against a lawsuit by the Biden administration over its anti-illegal immigration law, saying his state is confident in the legality of the bill – and that he is happy to fight the administration on this matter.

“I would say to the Biden administration, bring your fight to Oklahoma. We’re happy to fight you,” Attorney General Gentner Drummond told Fox News Digital in an interview on Tuesday.

The Department of Justice had written to Drummond and Gov. Kevin Stitt last week, threatening to sue over HB 4156 — which makes it a state crime to be in the state illegally and gives local law enforcement the ability to arrest illegal immigrants, and require them to leave the state within 72 hours following conviction or release from custody. On Tuesday, hours after Drummond spoke to Fox News Digital, the DOJ announced it had filed the lawsuit.


Attorney General Merrick Garland at the Department of Justice on May 2, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The law was signed by Stitt this month and is due to go into force on July 1. It is similar to laws passed and signed into law in Iowa and Texas. Those laws have subsequently both been hit by lawsuits from the DOJ, which argues that they infringe on federal authority over immigration law and enforcement. The Texas law is currently on hold amid an ongoing lawsuit.

“We have brought this action to ensure that Oklahoma adheres to the Constitution and the framework adopted by Congress for regulation of immigration,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said in a statement.


He said in his letter to Oklahoma last week that Congress has implemented a “comprehensive scheme governing noncitizens’ entry and reentry into the United States, including penalties for unlawful entry and reentry.”

“HB 4156, however, seeks to create a separate state immigration scheme by imposing state criminal penalties for violating the federal prohibitions on unlawful entry and reentry. HB 4156 therefore intrudes into a field that is occupied by the federal government and is preempted,” he said.

“The United States intends to file suit to enjoin the enforcement of HB 4156 unless Oklahoma agrees to refrain from enforcing the law. The United States is committed to the processing of noncitizens consistent with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). HB 4156 is contrary to that goal,” he added, giving a May 20 deadline for a response.

However, Drummond called it a “red herring.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond stands during the playing of the national anthem at the inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 9, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

“The open border coalition wails and gnashes its teeth when states exert their sovereignty,” Drummondsaid. “And in this instance, Oklahoma has genuinely been invaded by Chinese nationals and Mexican cartels who are in concert or separate and apart from each other, are engaged in illegal activity — principally the marijuana black market and contingent along with that is the distribution of fentanyl, sex trafficking, human trafficking.”

“And these organized crime affiliates are being advanced through illegal aliens engaged in illegal activity. And I need the cause of action to capture, detain, prosecute, and imprison,” he said.


Drummond also said he expected a lawsuit to follow once the bill itself was signed into law.

“I fully anticipated that the Biden administration would attempt to intervene and and distract the public from its failures,” he said.

He also said he is very confident in his state’s case, noting that unlike other bills, the Oklahoma bill orders the removal of illegal immigrants from the state, not the deportation from the country.

“The federal government is the body that deports foreign aliens. States traditionally do not do that, and Oklahoma is not attempting to do that,” he continued.

Border Patrol agents capture illegal immigrants in El Paso Sector Video

He said that, while there is a liberal faction in Oklahoma opposing the bill, it broadly has support from Republicans within the state government. However, he stressed that his support for this bill is based on an independent determination that it is legal and beneficial to the state.

“I can promise you one thing. This attorney general stands behind the plate. I don’t throw the ball. Don’t swing at the ball, don’t catch the ball. I call the ball and I call the strike. And in this instance, it has been my independent determination that the state of Oklahoma needs a mechanism to abate organized crime in Oklahoma by and through its illegal workforce, and this law permits it,” he said.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.

He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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