Calif. Law Allows Undocumented Immigrants To Practice Law | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Calif. Law Allows Undocumented Immigrants To Practice Law

Play associated audio

Sergio Garcia passed the California Bar exam four years ago. The bar granted Garcia a law license, but then rescinded it because he was undocumented.

The justices of the California Supreme Court may have been sympathetic to Garcia, but it quickly became clear during arguments they didn't think the law was on his side. Specifically, as the U.S. Department of Justice argued, federal law prevented Garcia's admission to the bar.

But then, there was this question from Justice Goodwin Liu: "Given that we all agree here that state courts are the ones that issue law licenses, could an enactment of the state legislature provide eligibility for a law license?"

The Justice Department's Daniel Tenney answered, "We don't think there would be any federal prohibition on the issuance of such a law license."

"So that is your position?" Liu asked.

"That would be an outlet if the state enacted such legislation," Tenney responded.

The case hit a nerve with state legislators. Garcia had moved to the United States as a child and was approved for a green card nearly 19 years ago, but has been on a waiting list since.

Shortly after the court's arguments, the legislative Latino caucus introduced a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to practice law. Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly voted for it, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law.

"This is my life's dream come true," Garcia says. "One of two. I'm going for the U.S. citizenship next. I want to be a full part of this country."

Garcia's case is not quite over. The California Supreme Court still has to issue a final decision on whether he may practice law. Garcia and his lawyers say they fully expect the court to grant that permission.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Mega-Rich Invest In Works By Living Artists

Renee Montagne talks to art sociologist and writer Sarah Thornton about how the habits of the 1 percent reverberate across the art world. She is the author of 33 Artists in 3 Acts.
NPR

Nigella Lawson Loves Leftovers And Knows How To Use Them

If you don't want to eat endless turkey sandwiches, there's plenty else you can make. David Greene talks to cookbook author Nigella Lawson about what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers.
NPR

Pentagon Expected To Release More Detainees From Guantanamo

Since the midterm elections, there has been a new batch of transfers from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more releases are in the works. But a new GOP Congress could stall the drive to empty Guantanamo.
NPR

Millennial Doctors May Be More Tech-Savvy, But Is That Better?

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennials are the next generation of doctors and they're not afraid to say "chillax" in a consultation or check Twitter to find medical research.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.