Immigrants with only a green card can now become a police officer. Why not, they get work permits, drivers licenses, medical benefits, cash and housing assistance so why not jobs policing our streets too.
Law enforcement agencies are claiming that they are struggling to fill their ranks or connect with their increasingly diverse populations and are turning to immigrants to fill the gap.
Most agencies in the country require officers or deputies to be U.S. citizens, but some are allowing immigrants to wear the badge.
Law department agencies from Hawaii to Vermont are allowing green-card holders and legal immigrants with work permits to join their ranks.
There are over 25,000 non-U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. military, and many feel it’s time for more police and sheriff departments to do the same.
That’s why the Nashville Police Department is joining other departments to push the state legislature to change a law that bars non-citizens from becoming law enforcement officers.
Department spokesman Don Aaron said they want immigrants who have been honorably discharged from the military to be eligible for service.
“Persons who have given of themselves in the service to this country potentially have much to offer Tennesseans,” he said. “We feel that … would benefit both the country and this city.”
Other agencies, like the Cincinnati Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, require that officers at least have a pending citizenship application on file with the federal government. And others, like the Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., police departments, require that officers be legal permanent residents, or green-card holders.
With more immigrants moving to places far from the southern border or away from traditional immigrant magnets like New York City or Miami, agency leaders say it’s important to have a more diverse police force to communicate with those immigrants and understand their culture. Bruce Bovat, deputy chief of operations in Burlington, said their immigrant officers help the agency be more “reflective of the community we serve.”
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said he has no problems with green-card holders becoming police officers because they’ve made a long-term commitment to the country and have undergone extensive background checks. But he worries about the security risks associated with allowing any immigrant with a work permit to become an officer, especially considering that the Obama administration has given hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants work permits.
“We’re handing over a gun and a badge to somebody whose background we don’t really know a lot about,” Krikorian said.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said any immigrant authorized to work in the U.S. has already undergone a thorough background check and will undergo even more screening in the police application process.
“The security risk is a straw man,” he said. “This is about people who have gone through criminal background checks, who are meeting the very high standards that we set as a country to stay here and who only want to serve and protect their communities.”
Authorities claim these candidates have had a proper background check yet they claim the same about many who are walking the streets committing crimes.
“The Obama administration claims that it is using ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to prioritize the removal of criminal aliens from this country. But this report shows the disturbing truth: 1,000 undocumented aliens previously convicted of crimes who the administration released in 2013 have gone on to commit further crimes in our communities,”
Last year Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a program to use GPS-enabled ankle bracelets to track illegal immigrant families released from custody.
The “RGV 250” pilot program is Homeland Security’s possible solution for the high no-show rate of illegal immigrant families who do not report back to immigration officials once they are released into the U.S. interior.
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