Illinois Allows Non-Citizens To Become Police Officers

Illinois passed a landmark piece of legislation allowing non-American citizens to join police forces within the state. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the bill into law, allowing Illinois to no longer require U.S. citizenship as a requirement to enter law enforcement.

Illinois House Bill 3751 passed the heavily-Democratic state House and Senate by large margins.

According to the bill, the state will allow people “legally authorized under federal law to work in the United States” to join police forces. 

In addition, the bill allows individuals “against whom immigration action has been deferred by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process” to enter law enforcement rolls. The DACA program allowed illegal immigrants brought into the country as children to stay in the United States under an executive order signed by former President Barack Obama.

Prior to the revision, state law specifically required U.S. citizenship in order to serve in such a role.

The change in Illinois state law also runs counter to federal law, which bars non-American citizens from serving as members of law enforcement. 

Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) wrote that “no sane state would allow foreign nationals to arrest their citizens, this is madness!”

The bill was also opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

“What message does this legislation send when it allows people who do not have legal status to become the enforcers of our laws? This is a potential crisis of confidence in law enforcement at a time when our officers need all the public confidence they can get,” the organization wrote.

Pritzker said that he was “tired of the right-wing twisting things.” He called opposition to the bill “lies.” 

“There are people out there that think we’re just allowing anybody to become a police officer. That’s just not accurate,” he said.

Currently, law enforcement agencies across Illinois struggle with the dual challenges of increasing crime and a shortfall of manpower. Recent police statistics show high levels of gun violence in Chicago, as well as the state’s other cities.