Edmondson: No compelling reason to help Feds deport "Dreamers"
CHICKASHA — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson said here Tuesday that he would see no compelling reason to help the federal government deport so-called "Dreamers" if he is elected governor.
"I don’t know if that’s still going to be an issue in January 2019 or not, but that is an area where I would see no compelling reason for the state of Oklahoma to assist federal authorities in taking action that we might not feel is just," Edmondson said at a forum on the campus of the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma.
Edmondson, who served 16 years as Oklahoma attorney general, also answered questions about a potential teacher walkout and whether teachers should be armed to protect students.
He was asked about sanctuary cities on the same day the U.S. Justice Department sued California claiming a trio of its state statutes hinder the federal government's ability to enforce immigration policy.
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- Video: Edmondson addresses teacher walkout, guns in classrooms
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in California that "federal law is the supreme law of the land."
Edmondson said here Tuesday night, "I don’t think people have the right to defy the federal government unless they’re willing to bear the consequences. But I also don’t think in this arena that any municipality or any state is obligated to assist the federal government in enforcing policies that state or municipality may not agree with.
"Specifically we’re talking about immigration — undocumented aliens who are in this country and Dreamers, the children who were brought into this country at a very young age and now may be adults ... They’ve lived here all of their lives and now the question is: Are they going to be sent back?"
Asked about the potential for a teacher walkout in Oklahoma, Edmondson said, "Well our teachers have done everything they could to bring attention to the plight they’re facing in education. We have a law on the books that prohibits teachers from striking. But I’ve looked at that statute and it applies to teachers that are in negotiations with a school district, and they are forbidden to go on strike as a negotiating tactic with a school district.
"There’s no prohibition against taking a leave and coming to Oklahoma City and trying to make a case to the Oklahoma Legislature. That’s not against the law. And my position is if the teachers decide in the state of Oklahoma that they want to come to Oklahoma City and make that case, I’m going to stand with them."
Earlier, Edmondson outlined his plan to pay for a teacher pay raise and boost classroom funding. He said he would restore the gross production tax to 7 percent on all oil and gas; the rate for some wells is now 2 percent. He said he would raise the cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack.
Edmondson also reiterated his pledge to opt into the federal Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act. However, Oklahoma's Republican-led Legislature has opposed that.
On the question of whether teachers should be armed, Edmondson said, "I don’t think it’s a good idea to arm teachers, to have additional guns in our schools. I think it’s a better idea to make our schools more secure to make sure that guns don’t get in the front door.
"Arming teachers — in the first place I think creates more problems than it solves and in the second place, it does nothing to protect people in shopping centers and movie theaters and other places where mass shooters have shown up."