NY Court Weighs Granting Law License to Illegal Immigrant

Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 02:39 PM

By Courtney Coren

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New York's highest court is considering whether an illegal immigrant who has lived in the United States for 25 years should be allowed to practice law.

According to The Wall Street Journal
, Cesar Vargas, who moved from Mexico to the United States when he was 5, filed an application to practice law in the Empire State about a year ago. The application was rejected by the New York Committee on Character and Fitness because of his immigration status.

"We applaud Cesar Adrian Vargas' devotion to the country he's lived in for most of his life, and we applaud his dedication toward being granted the status to fully participate in all facets of life in the United States," the committee wrote in its rejection notice, issued about a month ago.

"However, we believe that some matters, such as immigration status, are better left to the decisions of courts or to acts of the legislature."

Vargas shared the committee letter with the Journal. "If it wasn't for the immigration issue, they would have no hesitation recommending me," he told the newspaper.

Vargas graduated from law school at the City University of New York in 2011 with a grade-point average of 3.7. After graduation he passed the state bar exam.

Thanks to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children to stay and work, Vargas was able to acquire a driver's license and Social Security card. He also obtained a work authorization from the Homeland Security Department. But he still can't practice his chosen profession.

Cases similar to Vargas' are currently being heard in California and Florida courts. In each of them, the Justice Department argues that obtaining a work authorization under DACA does not allow for the issuance of a professional law license because it falls under the category of public benefits that are denied to illegal immigrants.

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