Illegal immigrant should get law license; California bar
A court case about whether Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, can practice law sparked controversy, with illegal immigrants emerging as an issue during the ongoing presidential election campaign.
The State Bar of California argued that Garcia should be allowed to receive his law license in a filing to the California Supreme Court on June 18.
Sergio C. Garcia, 35, has met all requirements for the bar examination and could work as an independent contractor or without pay if licensed. The state bar argued that the granting of a law license does not guarantee a pathway to lawful employment in the U.S.
“What Mr. Garcia, or any other foreign applicant, does with his license after licensure must comport with federal regulations and that is a matter strictly between him and the federal government,” the bar said.
Garcia came from Mexico as a toddler with his father, became a naturalized citizen and passed the bar examination on his first try after attending California Northern School of Law. His application for a green card has been pending for 18 years, though it was approved in 1995.
The legality of an undocumented immigrant working as an independent contractor has generated mixed reactions.
“Illegal immigrants cannot accept payment for work in the U.S―it is a violation of the illegal immigrant employment law,” said Thomas Langford, a Northern California immigration lawyer.
But Helen Sklar, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer, said it was "not illegal for an undocumented worker to accept payment for services" and observed that "a person is not deportable for working without authorization."
Garcia is optimistic that the court will rule in his favor. In the meantime, he is helping his father as a beekeeper.