Despite opposition from the state’s largest police union, Governor Jay Robert Pritzker signed a bill into law that makes it easier for non-citizens to become police officers in Illinois.
On July 28, Pritzker signed HB3751 into law, allowing anyone with a valid work visa to apply to become a police officer in Illinois.
According to the bill’s language, anyone who is eligible to work in the United States under federal law or against whom U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has deferred immigration action under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process and who is authorized to possess a firearm may apply to become a police officer in Illinois.
Despite the fact that only U.S. citizens are legally allowed to serve as police officers and deputies, numerous states have passed laws to override this requirement due to manpower shortages.
Violent, crime-ridden Chicago is among the Illinois cities most in need of recruits.
In June, Fred Waller, Chicago’s temporary police superintendent, told a local station that they deal with numerous people who are encouraged to commit crimes and shoot people recklessly during the day.
Waller told the media outlet that he would never argue that greater help isn’t needed. Officers are being worked to the bone and frequently have off days canceled.
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and many others across the United States are losing officers at a rate that exceeds their ability to replace them with recruits. After a wave of resignations by cops disheartened by anti-police protests and calls to defund the police after George Floyd’s death, the CPD reportedly hired 1,600 personnel to replace vacancies between 2019 and 2022.
After candidates became U.S. citizens, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, representing 33,000 active and former police officers in the state, said it would welcome them with open arms.
Officers’ primary responsibility is to uphold the law and ensure compliance with it among the communities they patrol. What message is conveyed by a law that makes those without legal standing into its enforcers? The coalition issued a statement early in July after the state legislature approved the law and awaited Pritzker’s signature.
This might lead to a loss of public trust in law enforcement at a time when that trust is desperately needed. Once their citizenship is confirmed, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police said it would welcome these prospective recruits with open arms and look forward to the fresh ideas they can bring to the police force.
Some state legislators were also against the bill. During the discussion on the bill, Republican state senator Chapin Rose stated that permitting non-citizens to arrest American citizens would violate democracy.
In May, Rose remarked that it shouldn’t matter where the person is from, whether Australia or elsewhere; they shouldn’t be able to arrest a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.
Earlier this year, California passed a bill allowing those without citizenship but with proper documentation to work in law enforcement.
San Diego’s police union has voiced similar reservations to those of its Illinois equivalent.
During his presidential address, Sgt. Jared Wilson reported that the San Diego Police Department had lost 500 police officers since July 2020. Wilson also said they need as many people as possible to join the police force. However, they would be opposed to a loosening of norms and restrictions.