Conservative States Intensify Crackdown on Illegal Immigration with New Legislation
Conservative States Intensify Crackdown on Illegal Immigration with New Legislation

By Stephen Zogopoulos, USNN World News

Conservative states across the country—Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Oklahoma—are taking border security matters into their own hands, proposing or passing legislation targeting illegal immigration.

Oklahoma Passes Immigration Bill

The Oklahoma Legislature recently passed HB 4156, a bill designed to prohibit illegal immigrants from entering or living in the state. The bill states, “A person commits an impermissible occupation if the person is an alien and willfully and without permission enters and remains in the State of Oklahoma without having first obtained legal authorization to enter the United States.”

The bill passed the state House and Senate by wide margins, and Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to sign it into law.

The Legislature declared the issue a crisis, stating, “Throughout the state, law enforcement comes into daily and increasingly frequent contact with foreign nationals who entered the country illegally or who remain here illegally. Often, these persons are involved with organized crime such as drug cartels, they have no regard for Oklahoma’s laws or public safety, and they produce or are involved with fentanyl distribution, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking.”

Under the new law, a conviction related to “impermissible occupation” would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Subsequent offenses are felonies, punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Illegal immigrants who are barred from the country or have been issued a removal order by an immigration judge and then enter Oklahoma will face a felony charge carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. In all instances, those found guilty must leave Oklahoma within 72 hours of being convicted or released from custody.

The law requires police to collect fingerprints, photographs, and biometric data, which will be cross-checked with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation databases.

“The failure of the federal government to address this issue … has turned every state into a border state,” bill sponsor state Rep. Charles McCall said in a statement.

Texas Border Security Efforts

Texas’s law, Senate Bill 4, makes it a state crime to enter Texas outside legal ports of entry. The new law was set to go into effect in March but has been blocked and is currently tied up in the courts.

Iowa, Tennessee, and Georgia Legislative Actions

Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed Senate File 2340 into law. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, makes it a misdemeanor for anyone who has an outstanding deportation order, has been deported, or has been denied admission to the United States to be in Iowa or attempt to enter the state. Being in the state illegally becomes a felony under certain circumstances, such as when the accused has two or more misdemeanor convictions involving drugs or crimes against a person.

As with the Texas law, it gives judges the discretion to drop the charges if the illegal immigrant agrees to return to the country from which he or she entered the United States.

“Those who come into our country illegally have broken the law, yet Biden refuses to deport them,” Ms. Reynolds said in a statement. “This bill gives Iowa law enforcement the power to do what he is unwilling to do: enforce immigration laws already on the books.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a new law this month that requires law enforcement agencies to communicate with federal immigration authorities if they discover that people are in the country illegally, requiring in most cases cooperation in the process of identifying, catching, detaining, and deporting them. The law takes effect on July 1.

“When there is an interaction with law enforcement, it’s important that the appropriate authorities are notified of the status of that individual,” Mr. Lee, a Republican, told reporters after signing the bill into law. “I think that makes sense. So I’m in support of that legislation.”

In Georgia, lawmakers passed House Bill 1105, which requires jailers to check the immigration status of inmates. The bill is part of an ongoing political response to the February slaying of nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus, allegedly by an illegal immigrant from Venezuela. The Georgia bill was sent to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk on April 3 and awaits his signature, after which most measures would take effect immediately.

Louisiana and Arizona Responses

Texas’s neighbor Louisiana is considering the passage of SB 388, a GOP-led bill that would allow state police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants within the state. The law passed the chamber on April 8 along party lines and headed to the House, also controlled by Republicans. “Louisiana is one step closer to securing our border and addressing our illegal immigration crisis,” Republican state Sen. Valarie Hodges, the bill’s sponsor, posted on social media platform X.

Arizona passed a law similar to Texas’s HB 4, but Democratic Gov. Katy Hobbs vetoed it. That inspired the Legislature to draft a ballot measure to be put to voters in November that would require businesses to use E-verify, a voluntary federal online service for employers to check an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States against Department of Homeland Security and Social Security records.

Local and Regional Measures

Cities and counties in both red and blue states are also pushing back in creative ways to stop illegal immigrants from coming into their jurisdictions. In June 2023, New York City under Democratic Mayor Eric Adams sued more than 30 New York local governments alleging they issued unlawful executive orders prohibiting temporary housing for illegal immigrants in their jurisdictions. Counties such as Orange and Rockland in upstate New York were successful in using local zoning laws to stop the mayor from busing illegal immigrants to live in their hotels. The state Supreme Court granted Rockland a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s plan after the county argued that local zoning laws bar hotels from operating as shelters. Orange County was granted a similar ruling.

In Colorado’s Mesa County, commissioners passed a resolution in February declaring the county a “non-sanctuary county” and denying shelter and services to illegal aliens sent there by the state or federal government.

Florida’s Stringent Laws

Florida continues to be aggressive in its approach to illegal immigration. Besides beefing up law enforcement to help the U.S. Coast Guard spot migrants and sending the Florida National Guard to Texas, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved laws to deter illegal aliens from staying in the Sunshine State. The Republican governor signed SB 1718 in 2023, which was criticized by the left as one of the most anti-illegal immigrant pieces of legislation in the country. This year, Florida doubled down on legislation, including HB 1451, SB 1036, and HB 1589, which further restrict the rights and movements of illegal immigrants in the state.

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay, whose jurisdiction covers the Florida Keys, supports these efforts. “Without question, deterrents work,” he told The Epoch Times.

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