Advocates applaud CA Supreme Court decision allowing undocumented immigrants to get law licenses

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Jan. 3, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Filipino immigrant rights advocates are breathing a sigh of relief as the California Supreme Court granted a law license to Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who passed the state bar exam.

Shortly after the court ruling, California Governor Brown also signed a new law that would allow undocumented immigrants to become lawyers if they meet the requirements.

“Your immigration status does not impact your ability to practice law,” Aqui Soriano Versoza of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) said.

The PWC said these developments will help beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, as some of these undocumented students are following Garcia’s career path as lawyers.

Versoza added, “It’s such a shame not to let very smart, very accomplished people be productive in our society. We don’t need them not working. We need their talents in society and this is one ruling that recognizes that.”

With immigration reform expected to be tackled early this year, advocates said these victories can help the cause.

“All the victories we are achieving in different states are a big help in the federal level of pushing for immigration reform because the sentiments for the immigrants is becoming stronger day by day,” Lolit Andrada Llelo expressed.

Attorney Bill Hing, one of the counsels for the state bar said the California Supreme Court ruling is certainly good news for undocumented immigrants. But he argued, “It has nothing to do with their immigration status. Sergio Garcia is stilll undocumented. That means that employers — big firms, district attorneys office — cannot hire him. But what it does mean is that he can open his own office. He can be his own boss. Clients can retain his services. Under those circumstances, he can practice law. But it does not change his immigration status.”

Nonetheless, Hing concluded, “The federal government does not have the authority to tell different states who can practice law. It is up to the law in each state to make that determination.”

You may contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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  • amfil
    4 January 2014 at 1:06 am - Reply

    The main problem of America are jobs and the economy

    Why have immigration laws or borders when nobody follows them

    How about those who follow the law and wait to come here legally?

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