Court still debating whether undocumented immigrant can practice law in California

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The California Supreme Court continues to debate whether law school graduate Sergio Garcia can practice in the state, even though he’s here illegally.

The California Supreme Court continues to debate whether law school graduate Sergio Garcia can practice in the state, even though he’s here illegally.

For some, the idea of allowing an unlawful immigrant to practice law in the United States is inconceivable. House Judiciary chairman and Texas Congressman Lamar Smith says this would encourage more people to enter the country illegally.

But Sergio Garcia, a 35-year-old immigrant from Mexico who was brought here by his parents illegally when he was 17 months old, says he is fit to practice, both morally and within the law. The graduate of both Chico State University and Cal Northern School of Law passed the state bar exam in July of 2009.

The California State Bar says he should be licensed, but a ruling from the State Supreme Court is pending.

Garcia says there are many other undocumented law school graduates around the country — around 1,500 of them — practicing law as independent contractors.

“I really don’t understand the concern," he said. "They never had the policy of asking what somebody’s status was until like six months before I graduated. That’s when they started asking.”

Garcia has been waiting almost 18 years for a visa, though his petition for one was approved in 1995. He’s now waiting for the state Supreme Court decision, which could come as early as August.

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