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Illinois Governor Signs Law To Let Non-U.S. Citizens Become Law Enforcement Officers

Chicago, IL – Law enforcement agencies in Illinois will soon be required to consider hiring non-U.S. citizens to their ranks in light of a new bill that was signed into law last week.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker quietly signed off on the legislation on July 28, Newsweek reported.

Under federal law, applicants must be U.S. citizens in order to be hired as law enforcement officers.

But under Illinois House Bill 3751, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, eligible immigrants who are non-U.S. citizens will also be considered for such positions, Newsweek reported.

Among those who will be eligible are the more than 30,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are currently living in Illinois, according to WFLD.

DACA recipients came to the U.S. illegally as children and benefit from a renewable two-year deferred action from deportation proceedings, Newsweek reported.

They have work permits, but they are not granted official legal status under the DACA program, according to the news outlet.

A federal judged ruled in 2021 that the Obama-era program was illegal and closed it for new applicants, and an appellate court declared the program unlawful in October of the following year.

“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 officers,” the bill reads, noting that such applicants will be subject “to all requirements and limitations, other than citizenship, to which other applicants are subject.”

They must also be eligible under federal law to obtain, purchase, carry or possess a firearm, Newsweek reported.

Illinois State Representative Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora), who sponsored the bill, said the goal of the legislation was to “allow DACA and permanent residents that are already able to work in the country legally to apply to become police officers,” according to WFLD.

Hernandez reasoned the new law will “help officers with shortages” and provide opportunities “to those working here legally for so long.”

The National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) was outraged over the legislation and argued it flies in the face of building trust in law enforcement, Newsweek reported.

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

U.S. Representative Mary Miller (R-Illinois) noted in a tweet that the governor signed the bill into law at the tail end of the day just before a weekend.

“At 5pm yesterday, when no one was paying attention, Pritzker signed a bill to allow illegal immigrants to become police officers, giving non-citizens the power to arrest citizens in our state,” Miller wrote. “No sane state would allow foreign nationals to arrest their citizens, this is madness!”

U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) blasted the new state law in a tweet on Sunday.

“In the state of Illinois, illegals can now become police officers,” Boebert wrote. “Yes, you heard that right. People who are breaking the law by their presence here can now arrest American citizens.”

“You know the other blue states are watching and getting ready to implement this idea as soon as they can!” she added. “We either address this border crisis or allow our country to descend further into a Leftist dystopia.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis agreed.

“To the Left, citizenship is meaningless. Illinois is now letting illegal aliens become police officers,” he tweeted on Sunday. “No illegal alien should have authority over any American citizen. It is a sad commentary on the state of America that this is even a debate.”

Pritzker fired back at critics during a press conference this week and defended his decision to sign the legislation into law.

“I am tired of the right-wing twisting things,” the governor declared, according to WMAQ. “They put it on Facebook, they tell lies. There are people out there that think we’re just allowing anybody to become a police officer. That’s just not accurate.”

“I proudly signed the bill allowing legal permanent residents & DACA recipients in IL to serve their communities as police officers,” Pritzker added, according to News Nation. “Our military already does it & it’s the right thing to do—no matter what lies the right-wing spreads.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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