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Bill on Pritzker’s desk would allow noncitizens to become police officers in Illinois

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(The Center Square) – A measure on the governor’s desk would allow certain work-eligible immigrants to become police officers in the state of Illinois.

Current federal law prohibits a non-U.S. citizen from becoming a police officer throughout the country. House Bill 3751 looks to change that law in Illinois.

The measure states that any immigrant who the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have deferred under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process is allowed to apply for the position of a police officer, deputy sheriff or special policeman.

The measure was sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday.

State Sen. Mary Edly-Allen, D-Libertyville, sponsored the measure and said many undocumented immigrants hold similar positions.

“We currently have many DACA recipients serving in the capacity in our classrooms, as healthcare workers and even serving in our military,” Edly-Allen said. “I think this would be a natural progression to allow these same people that serve in this capacity to serve our communities.”

During Senate debates in May, state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, criticized the idea of a noncitizen being able to arrest a U.S. citizen in Illinois.

“To hand the power to arrest and detain a citizen of this state, or a citizen of any state in the United States, to a noncitizen is a fundamental breach of democracy,” Rose said. “It is antithetical to the police power of any state.”

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, supported the bill and said history shows people from different backgrounds have been law enforcement officers for a long time.

“This is about Americans today. This isn’t about Irish born versus Mexican born, for instance, this is a much more fundamental question,” Harmon said. “I would ask you to look into your hearts and look into our history.”

The bill has received the backing of several Illinois law enforcement groups as well, according to Edly-Allen.

“We have proponents from the Chief of Police from Blue Island, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the Illinois Municipal League and we have removed opposition and have neutral-ed the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Chiefs of Police,” said Edly-Allen.

If signed by the governor, the measure takes effect Jan. 1.

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