Undocumented Immigrant Fights for Law License in CA Supreme Court

Oral arguments begin today in the California Supreme Court questioning if Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, can practice law. Although the Obama Administration has said they support high-skilled immigrants like Garcia, the Justice Department has urged the CA Supreme Court to deny giving Garcia a license to be an attorney on the grounds that it would violate federal immigration law.

"Independently of my status, I have to fulfill my dreams. I have to believe that all the work I’ve put into it is not going to be in vain," Garcia told Reason TV in 2012. "The knowledge you gain [...] is not dependent on a piece of paper."

Although he was born in Mexico, Garcia was brought to the United States by his family when he was just a year old. He lived in California until he was nine years old, went back to Mexico for a few years and then returned to California to finish high school and eventually law school. His father says he applied for a green card for his son 18 years ago, but the application is still pending.

The California Supreme Court has to sign off on all new bar members and when they found out about Garcia's status they stopped short of letting him practice law. The court asked the Obama Justice Department to weigh in on the case instead. From the Associated Press:

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

At 36, Garcia is too old to qualify for the Obama program. But he and the immigration groups supporting Garcia argue that he his is exactly the type of candidate the Obama administration had in mind when it adopted its program.

So the administration's flat-out opposition stunned Garcia, who self-financed his education at Cal Northern School of Law in Chico while working at a grocery store and publishing a self-help book in 2006.

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  • Duke||

    I would be surprised if California denied this man his right as an American citizen to practice law.

  • SomeGuy||

    huh???

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But he's probably a Democrat!

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    So the administration's flat-out opposition stunned Garcia, who self-financed his education at Cal Northern School of Law in Chico while working at a grocery store and publishing a self-help book in 2006.

    He didn't build that.

  • Paul.||

    They courted him, now they're going to deport him.

  • CE||

    Isn't he busy traveling the world for golf tournaments anyway?

  • Hugh Akston||

    His father says he applied for a green card for his son 18 years ago, but the application is still pending.

    Jesus this country fucking blows.

  • ||

    Land of the free, Hugh. Land of the free.

  • tarran||

    They are government employees. For them reading words is hard.

  • Paul.||

    Jesus this country fucking blows.

    No, Hugh, this is what happens when you cut government to the bone.

  • Paul.||

    Oh, meanwhile they're building a sexy new streetcar, angling for a new publicly-funded stadium, and instead of replacing an elevated roadway, they're doing a technically complicated and expensive tunnel that's already behind schedule and over budget.

    Because there's nothing to cut! NOTHING!

  • ||

    Don't forget the vast amount of road construction to support Paul Allen and Amazon's turning of South Lake Union into the new hot spot!

  • Paul.||

    that's different. Without government, neighborhoods would never become Hot Spots! You think Soho in London became Soho on its own? Greenwich village? West Bank in Paris? No, these places were created via public housing and the provision low cost, subsidized 'artist' lofts and 'creative workspaces'. Why do you hate freedom, Hitler?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Well, the West Bank one is probably true...

  • ||

    Look, Paul, it gave us the new Via6 building, which has TanaksSan in it. Wouldn't you say that's worth it?

  • Paul.||

    I don't get out much these days. This TanakaSan intrigues me. It looks...good. I shall take my daughter and we will dine at this TanakaSan! Yes, we shall dine there!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Someone didn't cough up the pesos.

  • Paul.||

    Uh, maybe it's because they did cough up pesos.

  • Homple||

    His dad says so? OK then.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

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

    Oh the sweet, sweet smell of arbitrary power. Because fuck you, that's why.

  • Tim||

    Rights and stuff are good, but this could take income away from the lawyers already here...

  • buybuydandavis||

    Bingo.

    Illegal immigrants can come in and *work for* the ruling class, but it's crazy talk for them to think they can come in and *be* the ruling class.

    And, by the way, when did Reason get all PC with the "undocumented immigrant" business? Whether or not he has documentation for his status as an illegal immigrant is entirely irrelevant.

  • R C Dean||

    Add me to the list who are irritated by the euphemistic "undocumented immigrant." You might as well call someone who steals a car an "undocumented driver."

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Nothing outside the State, eh?

  • Paul.||

    Nothing without paperwork, that's for sure.

  • Zeb||

    "Undocumented immigrant" is not a very good substitute. What about people who came on visas, but overstayed? They are documented, but also here illegally. I think calling people simply "illegals" is obnoxious, but I don't see the problem with "illegal immigrant" except that I think most of them should just have been let in.

  • widget||

    Garcia should imitate Cesar Chavez on this. Stop picking grapes, stop practicing law. That'll teach 'em Justice.

  • Redmanfms||

    Garcia should imitate Cesar Chavez on this. Stop picking grapes, stop practicing law. That'll teach 'em Justice.

    Nobody is going to miss a lawyer.

  • RBS||

    Not cool, having a link go to HuffPo instead the AP.

  • ||

    Yeah, what's up with all the HuffPo cock-gobbling today?

  • CE||

    Surprised it didn't go to Reason 24/7.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Did he lie on his bar app?

  • Paul.||

    I've been wondering, just an a technical point, how one goes all the way though school, elementary, middle, high, college, law school, bar exam... all the way through that and not be a citizen.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    To my knowledge, there's no requirement to be a citizen to attend school.

  • Paul.||

    Huh... like, my daughter can't attend school without shot records. Illegal immigrants have their shot records? So confrusing.

    I mean, ok, if you're an illegal immigrant I guess there's nothing from stopping you getting your kids their shots. I dunno, it seems like as I pass through the normal trials and tribulations of daily life, I'm constantly being asked for my social security number, driver's license and stuff-- stuff that might be more difficult to have if you're not a citizen.

  • Zeb||

    I think you are right. There is certainly no citizenship requirement for public school. And if you self finance, why would a college care?

  • Paul.||

    If this dude self-financed his law school, I bow to him. I'm not worthy!

    But if he got loans, again, I can't do squat in matters financial without providing metric-ass tons of paperwork which kind of... point to my citizenship.

  • Paul.||

    Oh, and if he self-financed working jobs which: A) didn't require citizenship and B) found a job that met A's requirements and paid enough to self-finance, I double-dog bow to him. This country needs more of him. Fast-track his application.

  • J_L_B||

    Nobody bothers to do verify the information is accurate. You could probably put all sorts of information on an application and the schools wouldn't doubt it.

    What always amazes me about it is how much attention these people bring upon themselves when they could be rounded up and deported at any time. Then again, if someone who spoke out so brazenly was deported shortly afterwards, I think our eardrums would pop at the yelling from the left.

  • Ron||

    How does one go through school and not be legal? Simple in California if your illegal they will actually reduce the rate you have to pay to go to university while legal residents have to pay full price. nice isn't it. If I were to go back to school I would claim to be illegal just for the lower rate and of course I wouldn't have to pay taxes either or at the least I would be forgiven for my past due taxes.

  • Paul.||

    Seems like it would be easier to claim you're illegal than claim you're legal.

  • widget||

    Although he was born in Mexico...

    Paul Derick doesn't read Fred Reed.

    http://fredoneverything.net/mexico-columns.shtml

  • widget||

    I cringe at replying to myself, but to be clear, being born in Mexico is not a disability.

  • Paul.||

    Yet being born in England is... fascinating.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't want any more lawyers. If he wants my endorsement, tell him to come back when he gets a medical degree.

  • Paul.||

    Or a plumber or car-mechanic? You know, something people actually need? God help us if he goes into politics.

  • Paul.||

    [...] is not dependent on a piece of paper."

    Says the man with a law degree.

    Sez the people demanding their marriages be reckanized!

    Too soon?

  • widget||

    I've been with the same gal for 18 years. We're going to stay together. I couldn't care less what any government agency or church thinks about it. We've each offered the other a hand in marriage over the years, but we're each too feisty to get along with any terms. You should be so lucky.

  • Paul.||

    Without a government-issued piece of paper in a file cabinet somewhere, do you really love eachother?

  • Raston Bot||

    2nd actor tests POS+

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/.....784475.php

    But he's bi and likely contracted it off-screen, then gave it to his girlfriend who was also in the business. Everyone else has tested negative so far.

    But life's not all bad for him because "When something like this happens you just have to accept it," he wrote Tuesday. He said that "the sun still shines on my face."

    I'm conflicted here. He's a piece of shit for putting himself in the position to contract it and risk passing it to his girlfriend. But she obviously was sloppy with regard to her own precautions.

  • widget||

    I am not a doctor, but from what I've gathered there seems to be some extraordinary risk involved in anal sex when it comes to STDs. That's kinda duh. Hey kids, if you want to do that, suit up before and change the suit before it goes anywhere else. And get off my lawn.

  • Zeb||

    They should just automatically make anyone who has been here since early childhood and has never known another home citizens. For all practical purposes, it is the same as being a natural born citizen and it isn't their fault that they happened to have been born in another country.

  • R C Dean||

    After pruning away the extraneous issues around immigration generally, this is how it sets up for me:

    If he is in this country illegally (and I don't know if having a green card application pending is enough to legalize your presence here), then it is a no-brainer that he shouldn't be licensed to practice law, just as people who can't pass a background check are routinely denied such licenses.

    If he is in this country legally, then issue him a law license just as you would any other legal resident.

    Should non-citizens who are legal residents be licensed to practice law? That strikes me as 100% within the discretion of the licensing agency (which happens to be the court in this case) and its legislative masters.

  • widget||

    I am an engineer and there is a licensing scheme involved in that. There are licensing schemes involved with plumbers, electricians, and carpenters as well.

    Engineers fall under the mechanical, electrical, and civil disciplines. Trades fall under contractor licences.

    I don't know what to think of this. There is no licence associated with controls and instrumentation, which is what I do. There is a PE 'practicing engineer' test and certification in CA, but it doesn't have much cache. I couldn't legally stamp a drawing with one if I had it.

    Of course the most robust sector of CA's economy is software. There is zilch going on with licensing there. There are private cert tests, but only public sector employers give a rat's ass if took or passed them.

  • Azathoth!!||

    You know, I can't help thinking that he clearly wasn't paying much attention in class if he went through law school and graduated not knowing that they wouldn't let an illegal practice law.

  • widget||

    Mexico is a frontier region, it's futile to practice law down there. It's all banditos and siestas.

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