Having a professional license but not being a legal resident is absurd, according to three GOP lawmakers
After barely passing by five votes and pulled for consideration, a Democrat-sponsored bill debated on May 28 came back two days later and passed, but not without a heated GOP debate.
Sponsored by state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), SB 3109, which passed 56-51, mandates that the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) not deny an applicant a license solely based on his or her immigration or citizenship status.
Taking the bill personally, licensed attorneys and Reps. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) and Peter Breen (R-Lombard) could not get the past the idea of the bill. Beginning the heated debate, Breen called for a standard debate, knowing that he would need far longer than two minutes to prove his point.
“How can someone swear an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country when they have broken the law or [are] awaiting a court hearing on a violation of that law because they are not legally in the country?” Breen asked.
According to Guzzardi, theIDFPR currently does not seek legal citizenship status under its professional licensure regulations.
“We want to make sure that the current practice is in line with federal law,” he said.
Guzzardi pointed out that the House passed similar legislation that had made room for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
“DACA is a separate issue,” Breen said.
With DACA, according to Breen, an individual is brought into the U.S. by their parents.
“They did not violate any law,” he said.
But SB 3109, has no limits, according to Breen, adding that someone who violated immigration laws should not be allowed to hold professional licences.
Guzzardi countered, reminding Breen that the practice is current, and that all he was doing was codifying the bill. But that was not good enough for Breen.
“Whatever the representation of the current practice is, the fact is [that] it is absolutely in violation of our oaths of office as attorneys,” Breen said. “This is a massive departure from our laws.”
Andersson said that even though he always appreciates Guzzardi’s work in the chamber, he can’t this time, and like Breen, he too was concerned with the how the bill would affect the Attorney Practice Act.
“Did you talk to the Supreme Court?” Andersson asked the sponsor, who said there was no opposition to the bill. “Did you talk to the ARDC (Attorney Registration & Discipleship Committee)?”
Again, Guzzardi said no one opposed, which did not matter to Andersson, who detailed the rigorous certification process that an attorney must adhere to.
“We are different than doctors and nurses, who are not charged with upholding the law,” Andersson said.
Aside from going into an area that is not the General Assembly’s prevue, the bill institutionalizes deception, according to Andersson.
“You are setting up a system by which attorneys are required to lie,” he added.
After Andersson urged a no vote, Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) also argued that a system was being set up so that those who cannot legally work in the U.S. will be able to attain a professional license.
“If you want to change immigration laws that’s fine, lobby the federal government,” Skillicorn said. “But this is not the time or place to do this.”
Guzzardi seemed to agree with Skillicorn by pulling the barely passing vote from the record for consideration until two days later.
However, on May 30, SB 3109 passed 61-49. The Senate followed suit the next day in a 36-10 vote. The bill will now move to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.