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Pritzker Signs Controversial Bill Allowing Non-Citizens to Join Police Force

By Jake Beardslee · August 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Illinois Gov. Pritzker signed a bill allowing non-U.S. citizens who can legally work and own guns to serve as police officers.
  • Pritzker defended the law saying it only applies to legal permanent residents and DACA recipients, not undocumented immigrants.
  • The law has drawn strong criticism from Republicans and conservatives.
  • Pritzker argues that other states have adopted similar measures.
  • The Illinois state police union supports the new law.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a controversial bill allowing some non-citizens legally residing in the U.S. to serve as police officers.  SecretName101/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a controversial bill into law that would allow non-U.S. citizens who are legally permitted to work in America and legally allowed to own guns to serve as police officers in the Prairie State. The move has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans and conservatives.

At a press conference on Monday, Pritzker defended the new measure, saying, “As usual, the far right is proposing or putting out there false information. They’re saying that we’re allowing illegal immigrants is the word that they would use. Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to become police officers in the state of Illinois still.”

Pritzker added, “What we have allowed is legal permanent residents and DACA recipients now to become police officers. So we have the ability for people who are legally in this country and again, permanent residents or DACA recipients, now to apply for jobs as police officers.”

Voicing frustration with how conservatives have portrayed the law, Pritzker said, “I am tired of the right wing twisting these things. They put it out on Facebook. They tell lies. They attack based upon those lies. They’re perpetuating lies. So, there are people out there that think that we’re just allowing anybody to become a police officer. That’s just not accurate.”

The governor, thought to have presidential ambitions, argued that the Illinois law breaks no new ground law. “Two other states already have provided this,”he said. “We have a US military that has 35,000 immigrants who are not US citizens, who are serving in the US military. Today, 8,000 more sign up every year… We allow it in a couple of other states and more states are adding on to this list of states that are allowing legal permanent residents. So, I’m proud that we are doing this. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s also good for our police departments.”

Pritzker noted that the law is backed by the police union, adding, “Oh, by the way, the Fraternal Order of Police has supported it.”

The law has sparked heated debate in Illinois and elsewhere about who should be eligible to serve as police officers. Pritzker said it will strengthen police recruitment, while critics argue it could undermine law enforcement.