Undocumented immigrant granted law license by Calif. Supreme Court

8:14 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Sergio Garcia poses for a photograph in San Francisco Sept. 3, 2013. (AP)

 


 


SAN FRANCISCO (AP)-- The California Supreme Court granted a law license on Thursday to a man living in the United States illegally who graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam.

The decision means Sergio Garcia can begin practicing law despite his immigration status.

Garcia had challenged a 1996 federal law that bars people living in the country illegally from receiving professional licenses from government agencies or with the use of public funds, unless state lawmakers vote otherwise.

Shortly after the court heard arguments in the case, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state law that authorized the granting of the license. The new law went into effect Jan. 1.

Garcia arrived in the U.S. illegally 20 years ago to pick almonds with his father and worked at a grocery store and in the fields while attending school.

The case has pitted the Obama administration, which opposes licensing Garcia, against state officials who have supported him.

The Obama position in the case came as a surprise to some, since it adopted a program that shields people who were brought to the U.S. as children, graduated from high school and have kept a clean criminal record from deportation and allows them to legally work in the country.

At a hearing in September a majority of the state Supreme Court justices appeared reluctant to grant Garcia the license, saying the law prohibits them from doing so unless the Legislature acts.

The court is in charge of licensing attorneys in California.

Lawyers for the federal government argued that Garcia was barred from receiving his license because the court's budget is funded by public money.

But Garcia said his case is about showing other immigrants that hard work and dedication mean something in the U.S.

Garcia, 36, worked in the fields and at a grocery store before attending community college. He became a paralegal, went to law school and passed the bar on his first try. He applied for citizenship in 1994, and is still working toward that goal.

His effort has been supported by State Bar officials and California's attorney general, who argued that citizenship status is not a requirement to receive a California law license.

Check out some of our most read stories from 2013:

#shortyellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights

Terrorism Warning: Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Florida flights

Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children

Courtroom apology: Woman apologizes for flipping off judge

Weird ice: Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond

Controversial Club: College student organizes "White Student Union"

CFO Trouble: School administrative chief in trouble over her porn sex blog

Warning Shot Wife: Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband

Science Arrest: Teen girl arrested over science project explosion

Wait, WHAT?? Dog shoots man in the leg with a handgun

Popular photo galleries:

Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers

Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos 

Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant

Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***

Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole

Popular Databases:

Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here

Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here

Most Watched Videos