The California Supreme Court granted on Thursday a law license to an illegal Mexican immigrant who graduated from law school and passed the bar, a precedent setting decision and a key victory for immigration rights advocates, the New York Times
and other news outlets reported.
The undocumented immigrant, California resident Sergio Garcia, 36, had challenged a 1996 federal law that bars illegal immigrants from obtaining professional licenses from government agencies or with the use of public funds, unless the state ruled otherwise.
In October, California was the first state in the nation
to pass legislation that allows children who were brought to the U.S. by their undocumented parents to become lawyers.
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The California Bar Assn. and California's Attorney General agreed that the status of citizenship should not be a requirement to receive a California law license.
But it was the State Supreme Court, which finalizes requests of applicants to be licensed as lawyers, which granted Garcia's application.
In its ruling the 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 federal government's opposition to granting Garcia a law license seemed to fly in the face of President Obama's program that allows illegal immigrants to avoid deportation and work here as long as they were brought to the U.S. as children, graduated high school, don't have a criminal record and are under 31. Garcia was too old.
In this case, the government had argued against Garcia practicing law because the court, which oversees the licensing of lawyers, is funded by public money.
Garcia was brought to the U.S. by his father to work in the almond fields. He later attended Cal Northern School of Law and passed the bar in 2009. He applied for citizenship 10 years ago.
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