Kansas Considers Non-Citizen Law Enforcement
The Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission (KHLAAC) announced eight key policy issues ahead of the 2021 state legislative session. One of them is a request to allow Permanent Resident cardholders to serve in law enforcement. Colorado, Louisiana, Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia, already permit it in some form, though each state varies as to the extent by which one may apply. The Colorado state police allow legal permanent residents to become police officers, having once been fined by the Obama Administration for discriminating against non-citizens after requesting that applicants be U.S. legal citizens.
The KHLAAC provides two reasons why green-card holders should be legally eligible to join the ranks of police officers. First, they note that there has been a decrease in the number of law enforcement officer applicants within the state. A rising trend across the country, reasoning that in order to increase the number of applicants they can supplement U.S. citizens for permanent residents.
Second, a push to increase diversity within the police force and be more representative of the communities officers are responding to. In addition to their two justifying points, the KHLAAC proposes mirroring the U.S. Armed Forces standard which allows both U.S. citizens or U.S. Permanent Residents to enlist in the military. If this second proposition moves forward it would amend statute KSA 74-5605 (b)(1), to include non-citizens. There is strong opposition to law enforcement agencies to using discretion when it comes to employing non-citizens, or enforcing the citizenship policy, even when careful not to violate the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Over the last decade, states like New Hampshire, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, and several others have seen bills or policy agendas discussing this matter. All bills like this in other states have gone nowhere.
If Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission succeeds with their policy agenda they will join the other five states that currently allow the practice.