by Brandon Jarvis

Sen. Jeremy McPike (D) and the Prince William County police chief are pushing legislation that would allow ‘Dreamers’ to become law enforcement officers in Virginia. 

Current law allows only United States citizens to qualify for these positions, which include chief of police, police officer, deputy sheriff and jail officer.

“Dreamers,” the federal government’s designation for people who were approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, are those who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and who have lived here since June 15, 2007. The designation does not include anyone who was older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.

McPike says the request for this bill came from the Prince William County Police Department. 

“They have a great candidate who grew up here, and this is the only country she knows and loves. She has always dreamed of being a police officer,” McPike said in an interview.

Even though she passed the required background checks, the commonwealth rejected her waiver offer when she applied for the position.

“In Prince William County, one of the most diverse counties in the entire nation, we take seriously our commitment to the community to recruit and hire a diverse group of future officers,” said Prince William Police Chief Peter Newsham in a statement to Virginia Scope. “We are striving hard to attract high-quality candidates from a diverse pool of applicants to serve as the next generation of officers.”

Newsham continued, “Virginia currently allows non-citizens, in limited circumstances, to be granted a waiver to become a licensed police officer. Senator McPike’s proposed bill extends that opportunity to qualified DACA recipients who are long-standing members of the community and merely seek an opportunity to serve and protect the very neighborhoods in which they were raised.”

The legislative session begins Wednesday.

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By vascope