The California Supreme Court has ruled that an undocumented migrant from Mexico can be licensed to practice law in what has been a very closely observed case regarding the rights of immigrants. The ruling was unanimously in favor of Sergio Garcia following last year’s ruling in California that allowed the high court to enable qualified applicants into the state bar, irrespective of their immigration status.
California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye says that it is “extremely unlikely” under current immigration policy that a law-abiding immigrant such as Garcia would fall victim to deportation. “Under these circumstances, we conclude that the fact that an undocumented immigrant’s presence in this country violates federal statutes is not itself a sufficient or persuasive basis for denying undocumented immigrants, as a class, admission to the state bar,” she says.
Garcia’s attorneys could not be reached and there was no comment from the US Department of Justice. However, the decision was applauded by California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ spokesman, Nicholas Pacilio. “California’s success has hinged on the hard work and self-sufficiency of immigrants like Sergio,” Pacilio noted.
Jerry Brown, the Governor of California, signed a number of immigrant rights bills back in October, with other new laws prohibiting immigrants from being detained by law enforcement officials because of instructions from the federal government and preventing workers being retaliated against by employers based on their immigration status.
Cantil-Sakauye wrote that being undocumented does not show “moral unfitness” that should stop such immigrants from joining the state bar.