MAY 22, 2023
House, Senate Republicans take opposing stance on bill to allow DACA recipients to become police officers — pending federal legislation
Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) speaks on the Senate floor Thursday. [Blue Room Stream]
House and Senate Republicans are on opposing sides of a bill that could allow DACA recipients and non-citizens allowed to work in the United States to become police officers.
The Senate voted 37-20 to pass HB3751 with all Republicans along with Sen. Patrick Joyce (D-Reddick) voting against it. The partisan vote comes after the House initially voted unanimously to pass the bill in March. The bill was an initiative of Rep. Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora) and gained Republican support after Rep. John Cabello (R-Rockford), a Rockford police officer, worked out an amendment with Hernandez to get his party on board.
The problem for Senate Republicans was giving noncitizens the power to arrest citizens.
“This is a fundamentally bad idea,” said Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “There’s no fixing it, there’s no nothing. It’s just a fundamentally bad idea. I don’t care where this individual is from. Australia — they should not be able to arrest a United States citizen on United States soil.”
The initial problem for House Republicans was that non-citizens are not allowed to carry a gun and posed a risk to officers’ safety. An amendment in the House changed the bill to ensure it would only take effect in Illinois if Congress passed legislation allowing non-citizens to become police officers or carry a gun.
“We currently have many DACA recipients serving in… our classrooms, as healthcare workers, and even serving in our military so I think this would be a natural progression to allow the same people that serve in this capacity to serve our communities,” said Sen. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville), the bill’s Senate sponsor.
Still, Senate Republicans argued non-citizens can’t swear to uphold an oath to the United States.
“As a professional firefighter that has sworn to uphold the Constitution, I find this disturbing, I find it distasteful and the fact that you’re passing a law that is predicated on federal law changing just shows where our priorities are,” said Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia).
But it’s not unusual to have people from a different country wanting to be police officers, Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said.
“There was a time when the Chicago Police Department spoke with an Irish [accent] and they didn’t learn them in Chicago,” Harmon said. “This is not about where you were born, this is about Americans today.”
Some Illinois police departments have already allowed DACA recipients to join their police forces. One joined the Fairmont City Police Department in 2018, which Hernandez said she believes was the first department in the U.S. to do so. The Blue Island Police Department hired a DACA recipient earlier this year.
“Other states in this country, including California, Utah and Nevada have passed similar bills,” Sen. Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) said.
The bill passed the House unanimously on the first vote in March and 101-6 on the second vote on Friday.
“It can’t happen until the federal law is fixed so maybe they were overly cautious,” Cabello told The Daily Line. “I hate to speculate as to why they didn’t [vote for it].”
Cabello said he is still comfortable passing a law that hinges on action from Congress because it’s the only way non-citizens would be allowed on a police force.
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