Posted on August 22, 2023

States Look to Hire Illegal Immigrants to Fatten Struggling Police Departments

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, August 21, 2023

Struggling to fill the ranks of their police officers, some blue-state politicians are turning to an unusual option: illegal immigrants.

A California law that took effect earlier this year allows noncitizens — including some unauthorized migrants — to sign up if they are protected from deportation, including by the Obama-era DACA program. Colorado and Illinois have followed suit with laws allowing some noncitizens to join the force.

It’s all deeply uncharted territory.

Lawmakers aren’t sure who could qualify, and analysts said it’s unclear who would be authorized to carry firearms.

“It’s a massive problem,” said Matt O’Brien, a former immigration judge who is now with the Immigration Reform Law Institute. “You’ve got this muddle of issues where there is no settled law, and it’s now crashing into the fact that these idiots in the defund-the-police movement have caused a crisis in law enforcement.”

Those pushing the idea do cite the need for more police and the desire to attract a wider demographic to the job.

They also see a breakdown of barriers for immigrants, particularly those under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which extends a temporary deportation amnesty to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.


Still, the thought of someone in the country illegally, even with tentative protections, having the power to enforce laws on others rubs many people the wrong way.

“It raises questions of fairness, of conflicts of interest and security,” said Elizabeth Jacobs, director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Immigration Studies. {snip}


California law allows those with valid work permits issued by the Homeland Security Department to sign up. That covers DACA recipients and those who arrived illegally but have been granted tentative status because of rough conditions in their home countries. It could even encompass some illegal immigrants caught and released into the U.S. under Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ “parole” power.

That’s particularly troubling because those migrants are not always screened against criminal databases in their home countries before they are released into the U.S. Many have paid significant money to reach the U.S. and often are indebted to smuggling cartels.

“The whole thing is lunacy,” said Rosemary Jenks, vice president at NumbersUSA, which lobbies for stricter immigration controls.

“We know nothing — literally nothing — about these people other than what they told us. We don’t even know if they’re giving us their real names, and if they have a criminal record back home, they’re definitely not giving us their real names. So how are you going to vet people?” she asked.


The police chief in Blue Island, south of Chicago, was working on hiring DACA recipients this spring in anticipation of the changes.

Chief Geoffrey Farr told the Tribune he was still eager to have the officers even if they could possess weapons only while on the job and couldn’t take them home. He said DACA recipients could help his department connect with the community’s heavily Hispanic population and that allowing them to join up was the right thing to do.


Utah enacted a law two years ago to allow some noncitizens to sign up. That change was backed by the Salt Lake City Police Department. The department said it has not hired anyone under the new law.

Ms. Jacobs said there are reasons other than hiring that may be behind the surge of new laws.

“It’s undermining the meaning of citizenship and the essence of our immigration laws as a whole,” she said.

Particularly worrying is the scenario of a smuggling cartel sending operatives across the border, or recruiting from among the mass of migrants who still owe cartels for the journey, and having them sign up for a police force.


Lawmakers in Nevada and Wisconsin have also debated bills to expand their police forces to include DACA recipients.

A backlash is developing in Georgia, where a lawmaker has vowed to propose an amendment to the state’s constitution to require that cops be citizens, which would elevate a law already on the books.