California Supreme Court Rules An Illegal Immigrant Can Get His Law Licence

Sergio GarciaAP Photo/Jeff ChiuIn this Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, photo, Sergio Garcia poses for photographs in San Francisco.

California’s highest court has ruled that a Mexican-born man living in the country illegally can have a law licence, the Associated Press is tweeting.

Mexican-born Sergio Garcia first arrived in America when he was 17 months old and returned to Mexico as a child. He then came back to the U.S. as a teenager to pick almonds with his father. He has since attended law school at Cal Northern School of Law but could not get his licence because of his immigration status.

The high court’s decision came after the California state legislature enacted legislation specifying that undocumented immigrants should be able to get their law licenses. In its opinion handed down Thursday, the California Supreme Court noted that there’s no specific federal law that says a state can’t grant law licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Here’s the part of the high court opinion that says that a person’s illegal immigration status doesn’t mean he’s morally unfit to practice the law:

We conclude the fact that an undocumented immigrant is present in the United States without lawful authorization does not itself involve moral turpitude or demonstrate moral unfitness so as to justify exclusion from the State Bar, or prevent the individual from taking an oath promising faithfully to discharge the duty to support the Constitution and laws of the United States and California. Although an undocumented immigrant’s presence in this country is unlawful and can result in a variety of civil sanctions under federal immigration law (such as removal from the country or denial of a desired adjustment in immigration status an undocumented immigrant’s unauthorised presence does not constitute a criminal offence under federal law and thus is not subject to criminal sanction.

Under current federal immigration policy it is extremely unlikely that immigration officials would pursue sanctions against an undocumented immigrant who has been living in this country for a substantial period of time, who has been educated here, and whose only unlawful conduct is unlawful presence in this country.

The decision to grant him his licence in California is the first of its kind and could have an impact on other undocumented immigrants who hope to become lawyers, NBC noted. Other undocumented immigrants have filed similar suits in New York and Florida.

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