Rich Miller

Rich Miller

GOP wrong on new cop law

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By Rich Miller

Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller helped ignite a firestorm over the weekend of July 29 when she expressed her disgust on social media with Gov. JB Pritzker.

Miller (no relation) claimed on Twitter that Pritzker had signed a bill late on a Friday afternoon “to allow illegal immigrants to become police officers, giving non-citizens the power to arrest citizens in our state.”

Miller continued by claiming: “No sane state would allow foreign nationals to arrest their citizens, this is madness!” Her more well-known Republican colleague, Lauren Boebert, amplified the issue the next day and Fox News picked up the ball and ran with it. The rest of the right-wing media soon followed, and a typical feeding frenzy ensued.

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

Trouble is, Rep. Miller’s own husband, State Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland) (also no relation), voted “Yes” on the House’s initial version of the bill, which would have allowed non-citizens to become police officers.

Oops.

House Bill 3751 cleared the House on a unanimous roll call on March 24. It specifically struck out an existing state law that prohibited sheriffs and law enforcement from employing non-citizens as law enforcement officers. The bill then added language allowing those non-citizens who are “legally authorized to work in the United States under federal law,” and who received federal approval to “obtain, carry, or purchase or otherwise possess a firearm,” to become law enforcement officers.

The bill was supported by various groups, including the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, and passed 101-0. One of the bill’s chief co-sponsors was Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), a Donald Trump-supporting police officer.

After the bill arrived in the Senate, its sponsor added an amendment allowing people, “against whom immigration action has been deferred by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process,” to also become police officers.

Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorne Woods), the former Senate Republican Leader, voted for that version, but all other Senate Republicans opposed the bill as amended, as did two Democrats, Sens. Patrick Joyce (D-Reddick) and Willie Preston (D-Chicago).

Most all House Republicans stood firm during their chamber’s motion to concur with the new Senate amendment, including House Republican Leader Tony McCombie. Not one member of McCombie’s leadership team voted against the motion, which passed 100-7. However seven of the eight members of the House’s self-declared “Freedom Caucus” voted against it, including Rep. Miller. The eighth member, Rep. David Friess (R-Red Bud) had an excused absence.

Gov. Pritzker eventually pointed out on Twitter that House members, “including those who are now complaining about it,” had voted for the bill before the Senate Republicans “started spreading lies.”

State Rep. Miller responded to the governor online by claiming his own vote against “legislation allowing non-citizens to arrest actual citizens,” paled in comparison to Pritzker’s “blatantly attacking the Consitional [sic] right of honest citizens to bear arms.”

But, again, State Rep. Miller did indeed vote to allow “non-citizens to arrest actual citizens.” His spouse, the congressperson, tweeted at Pritzker the same day that “Giving foreign nationals the power to arrest US citizens in Illinois is not ‘common sense.’” Ms. Miller should have maybe had a talk with her husband last spring.

As you might imagine, several House Republicans are eager for this particular news cycle to end. It’s enraging the base, and there’s some worry it could lead to some Republican primary challenges.

But Leader McCombie went on southern Illinois radio station WJPF last week to defend her fellow Republicans who voted for the bill.

“Every single [House] Republican, all 40 of us, voted for this bill,” McCombie told host Tom Miller (also no relation). “And that is because what the media is saying is not accurate. You can’t have 40 Republicans voting for a bill that is going to have undocumented illegal immigrants become a police officer. That is not gonna happen.” She also rightly pointed out that the asylum-seeking migrants pouring into Illinois won’t qualify, either, because they’re not allowed to work.

McCombie blamed Democrats for creating an environment forcing people out of policing as a career. This bill, she said, could help alleviate that problem. She stressed that only people who could be approved by the federal government to possess and carry a firearm would qualify.

“It is a conditional step to support law enforcement,” McCombie said. “It is not, it is not a license to give illegal immigrants, undocumented folks who are coming across our borders illegally, the ability to become law enforcement. Hard stop.”

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

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