Should An Undocumented Immigrant Be Allowed To Practice Law?

Sergio Garcia graduated law school in California, like most law school graduates, he sat for the bar exam and submitted his moral character application.   He graduated from Cal North School of Law (a California accredited law school).  He passed the bar exam and the California State Bar deemed him to be of moral character.  One key difference between Mr. Garcia and most other California bar applicants is that Mr. Garcia entered the United States illegally almost 20 years ago.  His parents initially brought him to the United States as a baby and returned to Mexico when he was 9.  He again crossed the boarder illegally when he was 17.

He practiced law for two weeks until the California Supreme Court challenged his admission to the State Bar.  On 16 May 2012, the State Supreme Court issued an order to show cause to the Committee of Bar Examiners why it should grant the pending motion for admission of Mr. Garcia.  The Court’s question arises from a Federal Statute which prohibits any State from granting professional licenses to undocumented immigrants.

On 4 September 2013, the Court held oral argument (which can be viewed here), during which at least four of the seven justices of the State Supreme Court seem to express that it would seem that Congress intended the statute to govern law licenses.