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California Supreme Court Admits Sergio Garcia, Paving the Way for Undocumented Law Graduates in California to Become Licensed Attorneys
The New Year comes with some great news. After a five year battle, Sergio Garcia was admitted to the California State Bar today, which paves the way for any and all undocumented law graduates who pass the bar exam in California.
The California Supreme Court wrote:
In light of the recently enacted state legislation, we conclude that the Committee‟s motion to admit Garcia to the State Bar should be granted. The new legislation removes any potential statutory obstacle to Garcia‟s admission posed by section 1621, and there is no other federal statute that purports to preclude a state from granting a license to practice law to an undocumented immigrant. The new statute also reflects that the Legislature and the Governor have concluded that the admission of an undocumented immigrant who has met all the qualifications for admission to the State Bar is fully consistent with this state‟s public policy, and, as this opinion explains, we find no basis to disagree with that conclusion. Finally, we agree with the Committee‟s determination that Garcia possesses the requisite good moral character to warrant admission to the State Bar and, pursuant to our constitutional authority, grant the Committee‟s motion to admit Garcia to the State Bar.
Undocumented law graduates should no longer have to deal with immigration status as a barrier to attaining “good moral character” or licensing as attorneys in California. The California Supreme Court ruling was unanimous, leaving no room for dissent.
Last month, the California State Bar wrote to my lawyers raising issues with licensure since I had not yet obtained a green card, even though I am legally authorized to work in the United States with a pending green card application. As of today, the California Supreme Court decision renders immigration status as a non-factor when admitting undocumented law graduates to the state bar association.
It looks like I will get to practice law sooner than I thought possible. I am hoping that other jurisdictions follow suit in licensing undocumented law graduates. As California goes, so goes the country, right?