Decision to Deny Immigrant Law License Will Have Far-Reaching Effect, Cautions Houston Immigration Lawyer
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 21, 2012 - The U.S. Justice department just sided with California's Supreme Court, stating that an undocumented immigrant who wants to practice law in California cannot do so.
Sergio Garcia, 35, asked to sit for his California bar exam. He has the support of California's Attorney General, Kamala Harris, who described Garcia as "a model of the self-reliant and self-sufficient immigrant" in an amicus brief. He was also supported by the California State Bar Association. However, Sergio Garcia is not a legal citizen of the United Sates.
California's Supreme court asked that the U.S. Justice Department step in, which then opined that licensing Garcia violates a 1996 federal immigration law. The 1996 law denies "public benefits" to illegal immigrants and was drafted, stated Justice Department lawyers in their decision, to "preclude undocumented aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses issued by states and the federal government."
"The DREAM Act allows for immigrants to this country to gain citizenship if they meet certain criteria," stated Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee. "And many of them are upright individuals with families and community ties who simply want to work. Such seems to be the case with Mr. Garcia. He has been in the U.S. since childhood, he has completed all requirements to practice law, and he has the backing of his state's attorney general to work as a gainfully employed lawyer. He did everything right. His status is due to circumstances not of his making."
Garcia's father was a permanent U.S. resident when the Garcia family entered into the U.S. He later became a citizen and filed a petition in 1994 for his son to be granted an immigrant visa. Sergio Garcia was approved in 1995, and has been waiting ever since for a visa to make him a lawful permanent resident and to allow him to move closer to legal citizenship.
"Mr. Garcia is not qualified to practice law," countered retired prosecutor for the state bar of California, Larry DeSha, in an opposition brief filed with the court. "Because he continually violates federal law by his presence in the United States."
"There are other law school graduates in similar circumstances," points out Houston immigration lawyer Banerjee. In Florida, Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, 26, in the U.S. since the age of nine, is currently waiting to hear from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners if he can be admitted to the state bar. The Florida Bar has asked for guidance from Florida's Supreme Court. And immigrant rights activist Cesar Vargas, based in New York, has passed the bar exam and is applying to be admitted as a lawyer. The recent opinion on Garcia is expected to carry weight for those and other, similar cases.
Annie Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer specializing in helping people become United States citizens. The law offices assist in visas and other legal immigration requirements as well. To learn more, visit http://www.visatous.com.
Law Offices of Annie Banerjee
131 Brooks Street, Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139
Phone: (281) 242-9139