State courts to decide if illegal immigrants can become lawyers

Cases in the California and Florida state supreme courts consider this tough question

Can someone who is in the U.S. illegally be counted upon to uphold its laws? That’s the question at the center of a case in the California Supreme Court, in which Sergio Garcia, a 35-year-old illegal immigrant who has passed the bar exam, seeks to be allowed to practice law in the U.S.

Both the state bar association and California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris support Garcia, who has been in the U.S. since he was 17. Harris even wrote an amicus brief to the California Supreme Court expressing her belief that Garcia should be admitted to the bar, and calling him “a model of the self-reliant and self-sufficient immigrant.”

The prosecutor in this case, Larry DeSha, feels differently. "Mr. Garcia is not qualified to practice law because he continually violates federal law by his presence in the United States," he said.

The California Supreme Court is ruminating on this case while it waits for the Department of Justice to file a brief offering guidance, which it is expected to do today. The court has given no indication as to how long it will take to reach a decision.

The results in Garcia’s case could sway another decision pending in Florida, in which the Florida Board of Bar Examiners asked the Florida Supreme Court for guidance on whether illegal immigrants can become full-fledged lawyers in the state bar association.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


See below for additional InsideCounsel stories on immigration:

Cheat Sheet: A quick guide to the American stalemate on immigration policy

Supreme Court strikes down much of Arizona immigration law

Alabama’s controversial immigration law goes to court

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