Can an illegal immigrant become a lawyer? This is the question California’s Supreme Court deals with at the moment.
Sergio C.Garcia is an illegal immigrant who was brought into the United States by his parents from Mexico at the age of 17 months. He attended college in Chico (Butte County, California) and works as a paralegal.
He now asked the State Bar of California to admit him to practice law.
The State Bar certified him after he passed a written test and a moral examination. The bar then sent his case to the California Supreme Court for routine approval informing them at the same time that Garcia was an undocumented alien. Instead of a simple approval, the state high court ordered the bar to explain why an illegal immigrant should be given a legal license.
The importance of that question shows when looking at its effects. With granting an illegal immigrant a license for law practice other licensed professions could have to admit undocumented immigrants, too (“flood gate argument”). The other question arising is what it means to give an illegal immigrant a certified status in his profession.
Stanford Law professor Deborah Rhode, a legal ethicist, said she would be surprised if the court approved a legal license for Garcia before he obtained residency.
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Reinhard von Hennigs