Thanks to a new ruling from the California Supreme Court, an illegal immigrant living in America for almost 20 years now has a law license and his own office to practice out of.
On Thursday, the justices unanimously ruled: “We conclude there is no state law or state public policy that would justify precluding undocumented immigrants, as a class from obtaining a law license in California,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the court, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
That’s because Gov. Jerry Brown signed sweeping legislation in the fall, part of which considered Sergio Garcia’s case and allowed illegal immigrants to practice law in California.
“With tears in my eyes I’m happy to report I am being admitted to the bar, thank God! This one is for all of you who dare to dream and by doing so change the world! Love you all! History was made today!” Garcia, 36, wrote on his Facebook wall Thursday.
And on Friday, he posted:
A CNN contributor, Ruben Navarrette, wrote a column in September raising questions about California’s new state law:
“How is Garcia supposed to uphold ‘the laws of the United States’ when he is, by his mere presence in this country, in violation of federal law?” he asked. “How does he pledge to show respect for ‘the courts of justice’ when, for most of his life, he has lived here in defiance of the rule of law? And how can he claim that he won’t ‘mislead’ a judge or judicial officer when living in the United States illegally requires deception on a daily basis?”
Garcia was born in Mexico in 1977 and taken to California by his parents when he was 17 months old, according to court documents.
He remained there until 1986, when he and his parents returned to Mexico. Eight years later, at age 17, Garcia again returned to California with his parents and without documentation, though his father had obtained permanent resident status in the United States.
That year, Garcia’s father filed an immigration visa petition on his son’s behalf, which federal immigration officials accepted in 1995. But, 19 years later, the visa has not been granted, even though Garcia has lived in the state since 1994.
“Because the current backlog of persons of Mexican origin who are seeking immigrant visas is so large, as of the date of this opinion — more than 19 years after Garcia’s visa petition was filed — a visa number still has not become available for Garcia,” the Supreme Court’s ruling said.
The ruling marks the end of a lengthy legal battle for Garcia, who received a law degree from Cal Northern School of Law in 2009.
That year, he passed the California bar exam.
Watch the CBS report via the Mercury News: