California Battles to Allow Illegal Immigrant to Get Law License

Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012 07:42 AM

By Martin Gould

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State officials in California are going to bat for an illegal Mexican immigrant in his bid to get a license to practice law  — despite objections from the federal government.

Sergio Garcia has all the educational requirements, but the Justice Department has told state officials that federal law prohibits undocumented aliens from being admitted to the bar, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Now the California state bar, law professors and even the state attorney general are lining up with Garcia in a bid to overturn that ruling.

Garcia, now 35, originally came to the United States with his family when he was 17 months old, but returned to Mexico when he was 9. He came back when he was 17 and paid his own way through Cal State Chico and Cal Northern School of Law. His father, a beekeeper, is now a U.S. citizen, but Garcia has been waiting for a Green Card for the past 18 years, the Times reported.

In a letter to the California Bar Association, the Justice Department said federal law is "plainly designed to preclude undocumented aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses issued by states and the federal government."

California Attorney General Kamara Harris said the Justice Department¹s position seems to fly in the face of the Obama administration¹s desire to see aliens contribute to society.

"It is not a crime either to be present or to work in the United States without immigration status, and Garcia has never been charged with the crime of unlawful entry," Harris' office wrote to the Bar Association. "In fact, Garcia has been forthright about his immigration status with federal officials and has been approved for a visa when one becomes available."

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