Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – The California Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a Mexican illegal immigrant who completed a law degree in the U.S. can be licensed to practice his profession on a limited basis.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye based her opinion on a law passed by the state legislature late last year that allows undocumented immigrants to get law license. The law was prompted by the same court’s September 2012 opinion that federal restrictions bar it from licensing Sergio Garcia, 36, unless the state government overrides the ban.
“We conclude that 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,” the chief justice wrote, according to L.A. Times.
Garcia, who has been in the U.S. since he was 17, can practice law free of charge or outside the U.S., said Cantil-Sakauye.
Before the ruling, the State Bar of California already determined that Garcia had met the rules for admission and his lack of legal status in the United States should not automatically disqualify him.
Garcia’s father, a naturalized citizen from Mexico, applied for a green card for him in 1995. The processing of the application, however, was delayed because the father became a citizen only when Garcia turned 21. Garcia’s green card is due for release in 2019.
Garcia earned his law degree from Cal Northern School of Law in Chico and passed the state bar examination in his first attempt in 2009. The state examiners found him morally fit to practice law and asked the California Supreme Court for routine approval. But the court decided to review the application because of his immigration status.