Can an Undocumented Immigrant Become a U.S. Lawyer?

California High Court Will Decide Sergio Garcia's fate.

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  • R C Dean||

    I think the headline you were looking for is "Can an Illegal Immigrant become a U.S. Lawyer?"

    Enough with the twee euphemisms, already.

  • American||

    Even refering to them as "immigrants," rather than "aliens," is generous.

  • Unindicted Co-conspirator||

    As someone who has gone through the California bar admissions rigamarole, I am seriously conflicted about this.

    Part of state bar admissions is what's called a moral character and fitness declaration. You're basically required to disclose your entire personal background, whether you've had any personal bankruptcies or criminal or civil judgments against you, whether you've been involved in litigation, whether you've ever been committed (voluntarily or involuntarily) to a psychiatric health facility, et cetera et cetera. The bar then performs through background checking to verify that you're telling the truth, and while the bar will overlook some truly minor stuff, they're not overly charitable. For instance, I know of a guy who failed his MC&F on the basis of having too many unpaid parking tickets, which supposedly evidenced a disrespect for the law. That's the level of crap that's disqualifying.

    I take a backseat to nobody in my loathing of current immigration law, but it is the law, and Mr. Garcia is here unlawfully. His continued presence in the country is a felony. That ought to change, but until it does the state bar should treat Mr. Garcia's felonious conduct at least as seriously as it does unpaid parking tickets.

  • ||

    So anyone who believes this is ineligible for the bar?

    One may want to ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

    Perhaps if the parking ticket scofflaw made a moral argument for why he didn't pay his parking tickets, he would have passed. Of course, it's a lot easier -- trivial, in fact -- to make a moral argument against current immigration law!

  • Unindicted Co-conspirator||

    You're not going to fail your MC&F because of your beliefs. You're going to fail your MC&F because of what you've done.

    Also, importantly, while you may have a moral obligation to challenge unjust laws, as an attorney you have a professional obligation to do so in an appropriate manner. Civil disobedience is fine if you're a minister; it's less so for an officer of the court.

  • Sarah Conner||

    Fake morality though isn't it? It's just a purity test to keep non-bootlickers out really.

  • Ronulanus||

    To be honest, I really don't care too much about illegal aliens coming into America, especially if they're just looking for a better life. It's when they come here, specifically, to exploit the Welfare State at the expense of hard-working American citizens - and politicians openly encourage them to - which infuriates me.

    A genuine libertarian solution would be to let the states handle it on their own and shut off the federal benefit faucet for illegals. Just my take, though.

  • Gene||

    Sergio Garcia's fate?
    Easy one, to never win a major.

  • dinkster||

    "He’s here unlawfully."

    I thought it was illegally.

  • American||

    Can someone who has spent his whole life violating the law, practice law in our country? Even immigration enthusiasts have to concede that it sounds pretty bad. As for illegal immigrants "paying more in taxes then they take out," it's a lie, plain and simple. Just think about it. It costs, on average 9,000 dollars to educate a child in the public schools. Do reasonites realy believe that the average illegal, with MORE than one child, pays over 9,000$ a year? That's not even counting our police, prison system, welfare for anchor babies, ect, ect.

  • XM||

    The nation (or most of the states at least) is legally required to provide education to illegal students.

    I'm not convinced that massive illegal immigration will be great for the country. But if illegal aliens do harm the nation, a lot has to do with they way it spends, and how it coddles low income group (which include legal citizens).

    As for Mr. Garcia, I wish him well, but it seems to me anyone who's in a position of upholding the law has to be a legal citizen. What's the opposing counsel going to say, if he's has to defend / prosecute an illegal alien?

  • ||

    Do reasonites realy believe that the average illegal person, with MORE than one child, pays over 9,000$ a year?


  • d||

    Yes, but illegals are more of a drag on the welfare system, because they make less money -- hence, they pay less in total taxes (and do NOT pay income taxes, despite what was said in the video) -- and they have many more children than the average poor or lower middle-class citizen.

  • uythsb||

    Merry Christmas which it is nice day

  • Nicholas Sarwark||

    Could that Eastman guy have possibly been any more smug or glib? And what a complete non sequitur of talking about welfare benefits for undocumented immigrants in the context of a story about a guy who put himself through law school. Wonder if he has an agenda?

    Mr. Garcia's violation of the law is that he was brought to this country as an infant and didn't leave his entire family to go back to a country he never knew. You can call that a crime if you'd like, but it cheapens the concept of crime.

  • James A||

    Lets put out a little more information. He is 35 years old making him born in 1977. He came to the US via his parents (illeglly) when he was a few months old and lived here until 1986. In 1986 Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized close to 3 million undocumented immigrants. Why did he return to Mexico? This guy returned to Mexico, went to high school down there and then returned to the US illegally, to finish high school and go to our universities. Yea it might suck for him but he can be a lawyer in Mexico just like he can be in the US.

  • James A||

    In 1986 I voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill because we were told it would solve the problem of massive illegal immigration. In his diaries, President Ronald Reagan said he was going to sign the bill because we had to regain control of our borders. The Simpson-Mazzoli bill contained three promises:

    1. The government would make a concerted effort to control the borders.
    2. An effective employer verification program would ensure that only legal workers were hired.
    3. One-time amnesty would be granted for people illegally in the United States.

    All three promises were broken. The government has made no serious effort to control our borders. Employers continue knowingly to hire illegal immigrants without any real fear of punishment.

  • hacimo||

    Slaves also "added more to the economy than they took out". This fact is irrelevant, anyone who spends money and consumes will add to the economy in a certain sense. Even a criminal who steals for a living "adds to the economy" when he spends his loot. This whole line of argument about "net economic gain" is nothing but double talk designed to confuse people who don't understand the technical jargon. In plain English however, illegal aliens add to the labor supply and compete against unskilled native Americans workers for jobs. The net effect is to increase the unemployment rolls and to cause wage stagnation even for Americas who remain employed. That is just the grim reality of supply and demand and no economist worth his salt will deny it. The reason we have a net economic gain from illegal immigration comes about because lower labor costs and increased labor supply are very good for the businesses that employ unskilled workers. Hence the chamber of commerce lobby is always opposed to anything that decreases the inflow of illegal immigrants. The bottom line is that people at the top of the economy generally benefit from illegal immigration and people at the bottom are generally hurt. An exception is the illegal immigrants themselves (and their families). They are at the bottom but are presumably better off than they would be if they stayed home.

  • hacimo||

    Continuing the last post
    One also has to consider the issue of taxes and whether the government budget is being helped or hurt by illegal immigration. Generally the answer to this question is and emphatic NO! Our system of taxation is highly progressive and our welfare state is designed to insure that low income workers gain a lot more from the government than they pay in. Since illegal aliens are mainly in the low income category this means, other things being equal, they will tend to get more then they give. It is true that they may miss out on some government benefits like social security because they can't register, but it is also true that they avoid many taxes because they usually get paid in cash. The average effect is a drag on the treasury similar to the deficit of supporting a low income american. Importantly, in making this conclusion we have neglected the indirect consequences of the fact that illegal immigration tends to increase unemployment and poverty among working class native Americans. This costs the government money and it decreases tax receipts (especially during a recession). If we were to apply this indirect cost to the account the illegal immigrants, then the negative effect of their arrival would far outstrip any other consideration.


    That's pretty sad. Here's hoping his dream gets realized. I seem to be under the impression that a couple of the family lawyers in Surrey BC that I know are undocumented from Central America, but I can't say I know for sure.

  • Mark22||

    I think immigration should be much more open and easy than it is now.

    At the same time, I also think if we have laws on the books, even bad laws, they should get enforced, because the only way bad laws are removed from the books is if people see them do damage.

    If bad laws are dealt with by selective enforcement, justice and law becomes arbitrary and unpredictable, and that is even worse than having a bad law consistently applied.

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