Fact Check-California bill allows non-citizens with work permits to become police officers

A California bill allows non-citizens with valid work authorization to become police officers. The bill does not extend those rights to those without legal migratory status, however, contrary to what is being shared by posts on social media.

The text in one post (here) reads: “SB-960 changes California law so that police officers no longer need to be either US Citizens or even legally in the country. So if you are arrested it can be by an otherwise illegal alien. Gee whiz.”

Another post reads, in part, “The bill makes no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants.” (here)

The posts refer to bill SB-960, which can be seen (here), introduced on Feb. 9, 2022, by California State Senator Nancy Skinner.

“The bill would remove the provision that requires peace officers to either be a citizen of the United States or be a permanent resident who is eligible for and has applied for citizenship, and would instead require peace officers be legally authorized to work in the United States, and make conforming changes,” the bill reads.

Peace officers is a term used to refer to different law enforcement positions, such as a police officer or a sheriff (here).

A March 18, 2022 hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Safety (page 4) (here) clarified that: “Among the categories of work-authorized non-citizens that would likely be eligible are permanent workers (immigrant visa based on employment), asylees and refugees, and individuals who are protected under the Program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).”

Robert Gammon, spokesperson for Skinner, told Reuters via email that the claim is false, saying, “SB 960 only allows noncitizens with full federal legal work authorization to become police officers in California.”

This is also stated in the Senate analysis of the bill (here) (titled “08/15/2022 - Senate Floor Analysis”) on page 3.

It is a violation of federal law to work in the U.S. without valid work authorization (here), (here), (here).


Partly False. Bill SB-960 amends the requirement that police officers have to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and allow non-citizens with valid work authorization to hold the position.

Correction Jan. 12, 2023: Changes verb tense in headline, paragraph 1 and verdict when talking about SB-960. The bill was signed into law on Sept. 29, 2022.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .