Yes, in California. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that Sergio Garcia a Mexican undocumented immigrant should be licensed to practice law in California. The Court found that in his circumstances it is “extremely unlikely” that he would be deported. In a unanimous decision, the Court refused to hold that undocumented immigrants as a class should be barred admission to the bar.
Mr. Garcia came into the united as a minor who was initially brought to the US by his father. He left to Mexico and returned in 1994 at age 17. His father was then a lawful permanent resident and petition for his son’s green card. That application was approved 18 years ago and he remains waiting for a visa to become current. Mr. Garcia completed high school here and paid his way for college and law school. He has been self-employed since 2004, pays his taxes, and has no criminal record. He passed the California bar and was awaiting admission.
The issue before the Court was whether the IIRMRA of 1996 would prevent Mr. Garcia from getting his law license. The law prevents an undocumented immigrant from obtaining a professional license unless state law allows it. The California Supreme Court recently passed just such a law allows individuals to receive law license irrespectie of immigration status. That recent change allowed the Supreme Court to rule in Mr. Garcia’s favor.
I hope this case will serve as an example for other states. For example, in Florida, courts are considering Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio for admission to the bar. Mr. Godinez-Samperio came into the U.S. as a tourist and has since been grated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DREAMer). Only time will tell how Florida will handle the issue.
Although, Mr. Garcia now has his law license in California. He still can’t be employed until he can achieve legal status. It is important for undocumented immigrants to understand that education can lead to a better life. Too many young immigrants leave high school or don’t go on to college because they don’t see any benefit. What is the point of getting an education, if you can’t get a better job. Well, Mr. Garcia has an answer to that. Become an entrepeneur. He will start his own law practice.