When the subject is California and the state’s extreme politics, nothing comes as a surprise. But even longtime California skeptics admit that the state Senate’s Bill 960 raises eyebrows for its audacity and disregard for public safety.
Introduced by State Senator Nancy Skinner, a Democrat who represents District 9 and its hardline cities of Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond, the bill proposes to allow non-US citizens to become law enforcement officers Californians.
Skinner’s bill removes the requirement that an individual must be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States to become a police officer, a step too far in the opinion of many Californians. Since its legislation does not specifically bar illegal immigrants in the non-US citizen class, the conclusion many have reached is that SB 960 would allow illegally present aliens to wear the badge.
The bill was originally passed by the 4-1 committee, has been read twice and will soon undergo a third and final reading before it can be debated.
The SB 960 has sparked controversy, and the first to speak out is Skinner herself. At a Senate Public Safety Committee hearing on March 22, she insisted that her bill “allows only those who live here legally and have the legal ability to work here – through a visa, a green card – to become agents of peace”.
“I just want to be clear on that,” Skinner added.
Despite its insistence, SB 960 is vague at best about the ability of illegal immigrants to become law enforcement officers.
To give Skinner the benefit of the doubt, SB 960 may be the consequence of his district’s inability to hold back the police.
The San José Mercury News reported that Oakland is “the most heavily policed police department in the state, with both a federal comptroller and strong civilian oversight.” Due to intense surveillance, officers are leaving the Oakland police force in unprecedented numbers, rising from an average of about four per month late last year to 10 or 15 per month since then.
Despite federal and city oversight, in 2021, Oakland police investigated 134 homicides, the most since 2012, and the city suffered a 21% increase in shootings.
Crime rates in Berkeley and Richmond are equally terrible. In Berkeley, a crime occurs on average once every 70 minutes; in Richmond, once every 158 minutes.
Berkeley isn’t the only contested city in the state. The Los Angeles Police Department has 296 officer vacancies and nearly 500 fewer duty officers than the same time last year, according to LAPD reports.
Whatever the solution to the Bay Area and the sanctuary state of California, rising crime rates and fewer police officers on the payroll, reward illegal aliens with the life-saving task to enforce the law is not the answer.
One of the existing provisions to qualify as a California police officer is for the applicant to complete a background check which confirms their good character. Since little information can be confirmed about an illegal immigrant’s life prior to their voluntary and illegal arrival in the United States, no meaningful background checks can be performed.
It is known for certain, however, that entering the United States without inspection violates US immigration law, which further means that the potential police candidate’s first action was criminal.
Blue states like California, Illinois, New York, Oregon and Washington pushed to promote illegal immigrants to the same level as legal immigrants, a grave injustice to foreign-born people who went through the procedures appropriate to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
Opening up good, albeit dangerous, jobs like that of police officer to illegal aliens does a disservice at all levels – to citizens who want protection from the most qualified and trained, to citizens seeking well-paying jobs with affirmative benefits, and to the American homeland that is still in peril.
Specifically, border agents encountered 838,685 illegal aliens from October 1, the start of fiscal year 2022, through February; President Joe Biden released 37.9%, or 318,700. Add to 838,685, hundreds of thousands of additional migrant leaks not included in the official total.
Assuming the rate at which agents apprehend or encounter stowaways continues – 167,737 per month before Title 42 was retired – total alien encounters by the end of the fiscal year on September 30 will exceed 2 million. And if Biden releases aliens at the same rate, another 760,000 unguarded illegals will be on the loose.
Skinner’s ill-conceived idea of giving law enforcement jobs to non-citizens, a category that can include illegal aliens, is stupid and dangerous.
— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher at Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected] and joeguzzardi.substack.com, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.