Illinois Considers DACA Recipients for Police Roles

Uncover the details of Illinois' proposed bill HB3751, which could open police roles to DACA recipients. Discover the implications and join the discussion.

July 11, 2023

In a move that has sparked widespread debate, the state of Illinois is considering a bill that could potentially allow individuals who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to serve as police officers. The bill, known as HB3751, is currently under review by Governor J.B. Pritzker.

DACA, an immigration policy established by the Obama administration, allows some individuals brought to the United States illegally as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit. The policy has been a contentious issue in U.S. politics, with ongoing debates about its implications for immigration reform and national security.

The proposed legislation, HB3751, seeks to amend the Counties Code and the Illinois Municipal Code. It stipulates that all applicants for positions in the classified service, except those mentioned in Section 10-1-17, are subject to examination. The examination is public, competitive, and open to all citizens of the United States, with specified limitations as to residence, age, health, habits, and moral character.

The bill further states that an individual who is not a citizen but is legally authorized to work in the United States under federal law, or is an individual against whom immigration action has been deferred by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the DACA process, is authorized to apply for the position of police officer. This is subject to all requirements and limitations, other than citizenship, to which other applicants are subject, and the individual being authorized under federal law to obtain, carry, or purchase or otherwise possess a firearm.

The bill also outlines specific requirements for applicants. For instance, all applicants must be under 35 years of age and are subject to an examination that is public, competitive, and open to all applicants. The examinations are practical in character and relate to those matters that will fairly test the capacity of the persons examined to discharge the duties of the positions to which they seek appointment. No person shall be appointed to the police or fire department if he or she does not possess a high school diploma or an equivalent high school education.

Moreover, the bill provides that a board of fire and police commissioners may, by its rules, require police applicants to have obtained an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite for employment. The examinations shall include tests of physical qualifications, health, and (when appropriate) manual skill.

The requirement that a police applicant possess a bachelor's degree under this subsection may be waived if one or more of the following applies: (1) the applicant has served for 36 months of honorable active duty in the United States Armed Forces and has not been discharged dishonorably or under circumstances other than honorable; or (2) the applicant has successfully received credit for a minimum of 60 credit hours toward a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.

The bill, if passed, will take effect from January 1, 2024. The potential implications of this legislation are far-reaching, with critics and supporters voicing strong opinions on both sides of the debate. As the bill continues to be reviewed, the state of Illinois waits to see how this potential change in law enforcement eligibility could reshape its police force.


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