In Chicago, illegal immigrants will be allowed to work in the police: such measures are planned in other states - ForumDaily
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In Chicago, illegal immigrants will be allowed to work in the police: such measures are planned in other states

Chicago opens police recruitment for non-citizens: bill House of Representatives 3751 will come into effect on January 1, 2024. The trend to hire illegal immigrants to work in the police extends to other states, reports Font1.

Photo: IStock

On July 28, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker signed House Bill 3751 into law. Critics quickly condemned the move, saying it would allow illegals to arrest American citizens. And many believe that this is a real attempt to solve the personnel crisis that many departments face.

hiring crisis

Every department has faced the dire consequences of a law enforcement recruiting crisis. Departments large and small cannot fill vacancies and outsource staff to other agencies. Chicago is no exception. Between 2019 and 2022, the Chicago Police Department lost more than 3300 officers but only recruited 1600.

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Departments have tried everything imaginable to recruit more candidates, such as higher salaries, fringe benefits, horizontal transfer bonuses, and even lower standards, including ignoring petty crimes. However, departments are facing historical understaffing resulting in longer hours for existing employees and higher burnout rates.

Speculation and truth

Illinois has taken the unusual step to fill the shortage by allowing non-U.S. citizens to apply for law enforcement positions. Critics were quick to condemn the bill because it allows "illegals to become police officers" and "foreigners to arrest US citizens."

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House Bill 3751 states that "A person who is not a citizen but who is legally entitled to work in the United States under federal law shall be eligible to apply for the position of police officer." The bill also states that said individuals will continue to be subject to all other requirements and restrictions necessary to apply for these positions.

There will be no special testing or downgrading of standards. Candidates must pass exams, compete and get grades at the same level as all other applicants. The only change is that they no longer need to be a US citizen.

The key point is "legally allowed to work in the United States". This requirement refutes the claim that illegals will become police officers. Even if an applicant tries to lie about their status, this must be disclosed during the recruitment process. Background checks should discourage any attempt to take advantage of new recruitment options.

Most importantly, many of these potential candidates would make great additions to any department. Some, like those covered by DACA, arrived in the US as young children. The DACA program, which provides deportation protection for people who arrived in the United States without legal status before they were 16 and have been permanent residents of the country since at least 2007, has about 580 active recipients in the United States. Although their parents were undocumented, these children grew up in America, were part of their community, and shared the same dreams as their US citizen neighbors. For some, that dream includes being a police officer.

DACA beneficiaries have historically been barred from holding positions in law enforcement due to various provisions in state laws. NBC.

"It's a smart policy, especially since fewer and fewer people want to work in law enforcement," said Art Acevedo, acting chief of the Aurora Police Department in Colorado, which has 71 positions open.

Acevedo, who immigrated to the US from Cuba with his family as a child and headed police departments in Houston, Austin and briefly in Miami, said a person's country of origin should not affect their suitability for a career in law enforcement.

The bill could potentially allow non-citizens to arrest citizens. Non-citizens can already serve in the military and work as firefighters, paramedics and other emergency response services.

Not only Illinois

Illinois is not alone in seeing this as one solution to the police recruitment crisis. Tennessee has allowed non-citizen military veterans to apply for positions in law enforcement since 2015. Earlier this year, California and Colorado passed bills very similar to Illinois's. States including Maryland, New York and New Jersey are considering doing so in the future.

The changes recently passed in California and Colorado are nearly identical to Illinois Bill 3751. Applicants must have a work permit in the United States, but otherwise must meet all other requirements.

California bill SB 960 was introduced in February 2022 and went into effect in September 2022. He removed a provision from state law that said a person had to be a citizen to be a peace officer and replaced it with a requirement that peace officers be legally authorized to work in the US.

The changes in Colorado also required changes to state firearms regulations to allow non-citizens to carry firearms if they are working as a law enforcement officer.

Stacey Shaffer, a lieutenant with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office in Colorado, said the measures do not ease requirements or lower standards for hiring. Qualified applicants are still required to complete medical and psychological examinations, pass aptitude tests and attend an academy, among other criteria.

Tennessee's requirements state that successful applicants must apply for citizenship within six years of being hired.

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The idea of ​​recruiting non-citizens was suggested by Nashville Police Chief Stephen Anderson, believing it would help bridge the gap with immigrant communities. In 2015, when the law was changed, immigrants made up roughly 15% of the city's population. Anderson said the bill applies to those who have served in the military.

“If someone is good enough to fight on the streets of Baghdad or Afghanistan, I think they are good enough for Lower Broadway,” he said.

Lawrence Benenson, vice president of policy and advocacy for the National Immigration Forum, said the organization has fought for years to pass such laws. Benenson said staffing problems arose even before the pandemic, and that police departments across the country have had difficulty recruiting qualified candidates for at least a decade.

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