Drummond Fires Back After Biden’s DOJ Threatens to Sue Over Immigration Reform Law

Ponca City Now - May 21, 2024 6:03 am

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two days after the Biden Administration sent a letter threatening to sue Oklahoma over its new immigration reform law, Attorney General Gentner Drummond issued a sharply worded response vowing to defend the law.  

In a May 15 letter to Gov. Stitt and AG Drummond, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) threatened to challenge House Bill 4156 unless Oklahoma agrees not to enforce it, claiming the law is unconstitutional and preempted by federal statute.

“This letter constitutes notice … that the U.S. Department of Justice intends to bring a lawsuit to enforce the supremacy of federal law and to enjoin the enforcement of HB 4156,” stated the DOJ. “If you have not confirmed by May 20, 2024, that Oklahoma will forbear such enforcement, the United States will pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Oklahoma does not interfere with the function of the federal government.”

Drummond pushed back in his response, rejecting DOJ’s “disingenuous” contention that the White House is committed to enforcing federal immigration law.

“One thing that has been glaring over the last 3.5 years is that the Biden Administration is only ‘committed’ to subverting the immigration laws of this country,” Drummond wrote in the May 17 letter. “Your misguided demands ignore that Oklahoma has not only the sovereign right, but also the solemn legal obligation, to protect its own borders and its own citizens.

“You are wrong about our law – and if the Biden Administration sues over it, I will vigorously defend Oklahoma and its people.”

Drummond contends Oklahoma had no option but to pursue the law amid the federal government’s failure to address the illegal immigration crisis. 

“Acquiescence to this intolerable situation is not in my state’s DNA; neither is surrender,” Drummond wrote. “As such, HB 4156 represents a meaningful, common-sense, and legally permissible step toward addressing and correcting that which the Biden Administration has willfully refused to enforce the last 3.5 years.”

The Attorney General characterized the DOJ’s preemption argument as “dubious at best,” countering that the federal government’s “broad” authority over immigration does not equate to “exclusive power” on the subject.

“Oklahoma is exercising its concurrent and complementary power as a sovereign state to address an ongoing public crisis within its borders through appropriate legislation,” Drummond wrote. “Put more bluntly, Oklahoma is cleaning up the Biden Administration’s mess through entirely legal means in its own backyard – and will resolutely continue to do so by supplementing federal prohibitions with robust state penalties.”

Finally, Drummond emphasized that racial profiling is not a component of enforcing HB 4156.

“This law is a powerful tool to combat those foreign nationals who enter and remain in this country illegally, and who become involved in serious criminal activity such as illegal marijuana-grow operations, fentanyl distribution, sex trafficking, and labor trafficking,” he wrote. “At the same time, I emphasize that racial profiling of any sort is not only unacceptable under any circumstances, but also illegal in Oklahoma. … To detain someone who looks, sounds, or acts ‘foreign’ is itself un-American and will never be tolerated by this office.”

Read Drummond’s response here and the DOJ letter here.


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