In a move that has stirred widespread concern among conservative leaders and law enforcement organizations, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) recently signed a new state law that grants foreign nationals, including those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the right to serve as police officers in the state. The action was taken despite heavy criticism from opponents, who argue that such a policy undermines public confidence in law enforcement and fundamentally breaches democratic principles.
The law, known as House Bill 3751, states that an individual who is not a citizen yet legally authorized to work in the United States under federal law is now permitted to apply for the position of police officer. The move signifies a significant shift in the state’s approach to law enforcement recruitment, broadening the pool of potential officers to include thousands of DACA recipients and other foreign nationals with federal work permits.
BREAKING🚨: Illinois governor, Pritzker just signed a bill allowing illegal immigrants to become police officers. This is not a joke.. pic.twitter.com/NsgFLF1XBX
— Officer Lew (@officer_Lew) July 29, 2023
This decision has not been met with universal approval. The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, for instance, voiced staunch opposition. They warned about a “potential crisis of confidence in law enforcement” arising from allowing individuals without legal status to enforce the law, stressing that officers need all the public confidence they can get during these challenging times.
Republican voices, too, have spoken out. State Sen. Chapin Rose (R) called the decision a “fundamental breach of democracy.” He noted, “It is antithetical to the police power of any state.” He added, “I don’t care where this individual is from. Australia should not be able to arrest a United States citizen on United States soil.”
The decision follows a similar move by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) earlier this year. The Golden State Governor removed existing citizenship requirements for peace officers, a change that attracted similar criticisms.
This move by Pritzker stands as part of a broader legislative trend toward the liberalization of policing requirements. While it may serve to diversify the force and address recruitment shortages, critics question whether these potential benefits outweigh the costs associated with undermining the integrity of the police force and the potential erosion of public trust.
Indeed, the law is perceived by many as a dangerous precedent, a “madness,” as described by Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL). She expressed concern over the notion of foreign nationals possessing the power to arrest American citizens in Illinois, questioning the sanity of any state that would allow such a situation to unfold.
This shift in policing is set to become effective on January 1, 2024. As the deadline approaches, it remains to be seen whether other states will follow Illinois’ lead or heed the warnings of critics who caution against this radical departure from traditional policing norms.