Categories

Historic ruling lets undocumented immigrants practice law in California

ca-supreme-courtIn what could be a game-changing precedent, the California Supreme Court has just ruled that undocumented immigrant Sergio Garcia must be allowed to practice law in the state.

Garcia, who has met all the state’s requirements to practice law, is not scheduled to receive his green card until 2019.

According to NBC News, his father is a naturalized citizen and began the process to naturalize Garcia in 1995, when he was 17. However, since his father didn’t become naturalized until after Garcia turned 21, his green card was being processed as an adult child and has been stuck in the visa backlog for over a decade. This issue of “aging out” of the U.S. visa application process is currently being addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Going into the case before California Supreme Court Garcia had the support of the State Bar of California, but federal immigration law prevented a law license to be given to an undocumented worker.

However, as the San Jose Mercury News reports the California Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislators passed a law allowing undocumented workers to receive a license.

Other states still deliberating on letting undocumented immigrants practice law

While the California Supreme Court is first to make a ruling on whether or not an undocumented immigrant can practice law, there are two similar cases in both Florida and New York.

Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio passed the Florida bar exam in 2011 and has been waiting to practice law. Similarly to Garcia, his hold up has been due to the immigration process. He was granted deferred action on December 24, 2012 and therefore may no longer be considered to be here in the United States “illegally.”

In New York, Cesar Vargas has passed the state bar exam, which was the final punctuation on a distinguished education that included making honors in law school and interning with a State Supreme Court judge. Because Vargas has been living here undocumented since he was 5, he has not been given his law license.

The stories of all three individuals highlight the severe problems with our current immigration law and the desperate need to reform it.