Oklahoma Travel Advisory

STATE OF OKLAHOMA — Exercise increased caution in Oklahoma due to risk of civil and constitutional rights violations 

The American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLUs) of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, San Diego & Imperial Counties, Arizona, Arkansas and Texas are issuing a travel advisory for their residents about the threat of civil and constitutional rights violations when traveling in the state of Oklahoma after the passage of HB 4156. That law does not take effect until July 1, 2024, but issuance of the advisory enables people to consider travel plans and prepare accordingly. 

HB 4156, signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 30, makes entering and remaining in Oklahoma a crime if a person entered the United States unlawfully. HB 4156 would also make reentering Oklahoma after being ordered removed from the U.S. a crime. 

The law does not apply to people who have obtained asylum, who are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program benefits, or who otherwise have lawful presence in the United States. It also does not apply to those who have been ordered removed but have obtained permission to re-enter the country. 

A person arrested in Oklahoma without formal immigration status could be charged with a crime punishable as a misdemeanor for a first offense (one year in jail and/or $500 fine) and a felony for a subsequent offense (two years in prison and/or $1,000 fine). Moreover, a person who violates this law will be ordered to leave the state within 72-hours of conviction or release, “whichever comes later.” 

People arrested who have previously been ordered removed from the U.S. can be charged with a felony (two years in prison and/or $1,000 fine). 

Sensitive locations such as hospitals, religious facilities, and schools are not exempt from enforcement. HB 4156 also doesn’t account for certain protections granted by federal immigration law and could result in state criminal charges against people who have not violated federal immigration law.  

This law, when implemented, poses a risk to any person while in Oklahoma, since travelers and Oklahoma residents, including life-long undocumented Oklahomans or residents of neighboring states, are at risk of arrest and imprisonment. The law also increases the risk of racial profiling by law enforcement untrained in complex federal immigration law.   

It is important to remember that racial profiling is illegal in the U.S. and previous efforts by states to take on federal immigration enforcement responsibilities have been overturned by the courts. However, the increased risk that individuals and motorists will be stopped, questioned, detained, and arrested because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin makes it imperative that people understand their rights when encountering law enforcement authorities in Oklahoma. 


Many residents from states along the Oklahoma state border, both newly arrived and life-long residents, may need to travel to Oklahoma for medical care, air travel, education, and more. Many others may travel to Oklahoma for work or to visit friends and family.  

If you are in Oklahoma or intend to travel to the state, there are several steps you can take to help stay safe: 

How to reduce risk to yourself  

  • Stay calm. Don’t run, argue, resist, or obstruct the officer, even if you believe your rights are being violated. Keep your hands where police can see them. 
  • Don’t lie about your immigration status or provide false documents.  

If you are stopped 

  • You do not have to provide information about your immigration status. You should, however, carry any documentation about your immigration status at all times.  
  • You do not have to consent to any searches of your person. If the police ask to search you or your belongings, you may refuse. 

If you are arrested 

  • You have the right to remain silent. To invoke this right, you must say you wish to remain silent. Don't give any explanations or excuses. Don't say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. 
  • You have the right to an attorney. Ask for a lawyer immediately (and do not say anything else). Don't say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer.  
  • If you are arrested without a warrant, you have the right to appear before a judge within 48 hours.  
  • If you are a national of a foreign country, you have the right to have the country of your nationality notified through the country’s consular officials. Ask that a consular official from the country be notified of your arrest.  
    • If you are a Mexican national, arresting officers should use the following email ([email protected]) to notify the Mexican consulate of your arrest 
    • If someone you know has been arrested and is a Mexican national, you can call the following phone number ((520) 623-7874) to notify Mexican consular officials of their arrest. 

Additional steps you can take to prepare ahead of travel to the state of Oklahoma 

  • Prepare for the possibility of unjust arrest, detention, and even eventual deportation by federal immigration enforcement authorities. Make sure you have a plan in place for someone to take care of children, pets, home needs, etc. if you are apprehended. 
  • Develop a communication plan with your family members, employers, and anyone else involved with your travel to Oklahoma. Share your travel plans with them, stay in touch while you are in Oklahoma, and let them know when you have safely left the state of Oklahoma. 
  • Keep relevant immigration documents easily accessible. 
  • Protect your digital privacy by disabling face or fingerprint authentication on your cell phone or other devices. Instead, use passwords or PINs to keep your devices secure. 
  • Memorize the phone number of a licensed attorney. 

You can find additional information on how to protect your rights when stopped by law enforcement in various languages here: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/immigrants-rights 

Colorado residents who are subjected to racial or ethnic profiling or other rights violations are encouraged to report these concerns: https://www.aclu-co.org/en/resources/need-legal-help