California Supreme Court grants law license to illegal immigrant
January 3, 2014
The California Supreme Court unanimously agreed Thursday to allow an undocumented immigrant the right to practice law. [LA Times]
Chico resident Sergio C. Garica, 36, passed the state bar four years ago but has yet to receive federal approval of his green card. He is the first undocumented immigrant in the U.S. to receive a law license.
The state Supreme Court, which has the final say on licensing lawyers, approved Garcia’s admission to the California Bar Association because the Legislature passed a law last year clearing the way, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the ruling.
“The fact that an undocumented immigrant’s presence in this country violates federal statutes is not itself a sufficient or persuasive basis for denying undocumented immigrants, as a class, admission to the State Bar, Cantil-Sakuye wrote.
A 1996 federal law prohibits state agencies from issuing licenses or benefits to illegal immigrants. The emergency legislation passed by the Assembly and Senate in Sept. and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in Oct. provided exemptions for law licenses in California.
Garcia moved with his family from Mexico to the U.S. when he was 17 months old. He returned to Mexico when he was 9 and reentered the U.S. without authorization at age 17.
The federal government accepted Garcia’s petition for a green card in 1995 but has yet to issue it.