Undocumented Aliens May Get Law License

Sergio Garcia standing at microphone
Sergio Garcia standing at microphone

Sergio Garcia graduated from law school and passed California’s bar exam on his first try in 2009.  But he still could not become a lawyer.  Garcia, 36, was an undocumented immigrant.   He was brought here illegally by his parents when he was a minor.

He went to college and worked his way through law school.  He has had a green card approved since 1995.  But he may have to wait six more years to receive it, based on the huge backlog of applications for Mexican nationals seeking the card.

While he may seem a perfect candidate for the federal Dream Act, at age 36 he is too old to be considered.

He pled his case to the California Supreme Court in September, hoping to win approval for a law license.  But it appeared a majority of the justice might not rule his way and some of them urged the legislature to fix the problem.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, took up the issue and sponsored a bill that would help Garcia.

The U.S. Justice Department has argued that immigration law bars such licensing unless a state passes a law specifically permitting it.  Although, this has not always been the case.  In the past the California State Bar has licensed immigrants in the U.S. on student or visitor visas to practice law.

On October 4 Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1024, making California the first state in the nation to allow undocumented immigrants to get law licenses if they have a law degree and pass the state Bar exam.

Supreme Ct. Case:  In re Garcia, No. S202512


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