Department of Justice says undocumented immigrants cannot practice law

Judge's gavel court

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The federal Justice Department says that undocumented immigrants cannot practice law, responding directly to a case before the California Supreme Court.

Sergio Garcia graduated from Chico State University three years ago, and soon after that the Mexican-born immigrant passed the state bar exam. But Garcia's undocumented, so he isn’t automatically able to secure his California law license.

The California Supreme Court agreed to review Garcia’s case last May, but now federal officials say the court cannot issue a law license to an immigrant who lives illegally in this country.

The Department of Justice opinion says federal law prohibits people who lack legal immigration status from obtaining certain state benefits, including professional licenses. Even if he obtained a law license, the Department of Justice says, Garcia wouldn’t be able to work legally in the United States as an independent contractor or in his own law practice.

In a previous interview, Garcia has said that the fact that his parents brought him here as an infant should not reflect badly upon his character.

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