Illinois passes law allowing immigrants non citizens to join police force

Governor Pritzker and Democratic lawmakers push the rule through despite opposition from agents and the Republican Party.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed into law a bill allowing non-U.S. citizens with work permits to become police officers in the state. The move has sparked a wave of protests among the Police and GOP associations, since nationality was one of the requirements to be able to work in law enforcement. The measure will take effect on January 1, 2024.

In contrast to federal law, which makes it mandatory to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for a position as a police officer or deputy, the bill HB3751 "provides that an individual who is not a citizen but is legally authorized to work in the United States under federal law is authorized to apply for the position of police officer, subject to all requirements and limitations, other than citizenship, to which other applicants are subject." However, the law specifies that non-citizens must be able to obtain, carry, purchase or otherwise possess a fire arm under federal law to apply for the position.

One of the most controversial aspects of the measure is that it allows illegal immigrants who are in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA), to also receive the right to apply for a position to join law enforcement.

Police against the new Illinois law

Members of the Democratic Party pushed the new legislation through despite pushback from law enforcement. Thus, the Police Fraternity expressed its objections to the initiative from the outset, stressing the crisis of confidence that will be caused in citizens by people whose status in the country is illegal:

What message does this legislation send when it allows people who have no 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.

Protests were also raised from the Republican Party. Thus, Congresswoman Mary Miller, who lamented Pritzker's timing in signing the bill so that it would go virtually unnoticed.