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 The bar granted Garcia a law license, but then rescinded it because he was undocumented.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

Once Outlaws, Young Lords Find A Museum Home For Radical Roots

Inspired by the Black Panthers, the Young Lords were formed in New York City by a group of Puerto Rican youth in 1969. Their history is now on display in a new exhibition.
NPR

Europe's Taste For Caviar Is Putting Pressure On A Great Lakes Fish

Scientists say lake herring, a key fish in Lake Superior's food web, is suffering because of mild winters and Europe's appetite for roe. Some say the species may be at risk of "collapse."
WAMU 88.5

A Congressional Attempt To Speed The Development Of Lifesaving Treatments

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a rare bi-partisan effort. The bill is meant to speed the development of lifesaving treatments, but critics warn it may also allow ineffective or even harmful drugs onto the market.

NPR

Some Google Street View Cars Now Track Pollution Levels

Google's already tested three of the pollution-sensor equipped cars in Denver, and is currently trying them out in the Bay Area.

Leave a Comment

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