Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker last week signed a bill that would allow non-US citizens to apply to become police officers, and on Monday he defended the legislation against critics.
During a news conference where he spoke about legislation protecting reproductive rights in the state, Pritzker emphasized that the bill would be limited to people who are legally allowed to work in the United States and who are legally allowed to possess firearms.
“We have an opportunity for people who are in this country legally and permanent residents and DACA residents to apply for jobs as police officers,” he said.
HB 3751 was passed by both chambers of the general meeting earlier this year. The bill’s language says that “individuals who are not citizens but who are lawfully authorized to work in the United States under federal law” would be allowed to apply for jobs with police departments beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
The bill is also causing backlash. Rep. Mary Miller and Lauren Boebert were among the Republicans who condemned the bill, arguing that the legislation would allow people who entered the United States illegally to apply for positions.
Former Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson also opposed the bill, arguing that it “defies common sense for non-citizens to arrest and detain legal citizens.”
Pritzker fired back at this criticism, saying it misrepresents the language of the legislation.
“I’m tired of the right wing twisting things,” he said. “They’re putting it on Facebook, they’re telling lies. There are people out there who think we just allow anyone to become a police officer. It’s just not correct.”
The governor also cited other states, including California, that have similar legislation on the books, pointing out that thousands of legal permanent residents and DACA recipients already serve in the U.S. military.
Boat representatives Illinois Municipal League and Chicago FOP Lodge #7 filed testimonials in support of the legislation, while the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police initially opposed the measure but later changed their stance to neutral, according to MyStateLine.
*editor’s note: The original version of this story indicated that the IACP opposed the measure, but did not include a clarification that they had changed their position.