Immigrant Fights to Become California Lawyer

KTVU (San Francisco), September 4, 2013

A majority of California Supreme Court justices appeared reluctant Wednesday to grant a law license to Sergio Garcia, who graduated law school and passed the state’s bar exam but has been living illegally in the United States for 20 years.

A federal law passed by Congress in 1996 bars immigrants in the country illegally from receiving “professional licenses” from government agencies or with the use of public funds unless state lawmakers specifically vote otherwise.


The court has 90-days to rule in a case that has garnered national attention, putting the Obama administration against state officials who supported Garcia’s application.

Outside of court, Garcia expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would rule in his favor despite the tough questions asked of the lawyers who spoke on his side during an hour of oral arguments.

If he does lose, Garcia vowed to continue fighting to become a California lawyer either through the state Legislature or in the federal courts.

“This is about trying to live the American Dream and showing other immigrants that hard work and dedication does mean something in this country,” he said.

The state Supreme Court is in charge of licensing lawyers in California and the arguments boiled down to whether public money would be used in its licensing of Garcia. Lawyers for Garcia and the California State bar also argued that Congress meant to exempt attorney licenses from the law because they are issued by courts and not agencies.

A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer argued that Garcia is barred from receiving his law license because the court’s entire budget comes from the public treasury.


The dispute is the latest high-profile immigration clash between state and federal laws. Usually, it’s the Obama administration opposing state laws in Arizona and elsewhere thought to be anti-immigrant.

The Obama position surprised some, since it had recently adopted a program that shields people who were brought to the U.S. as children, graduated high school and have kept a clean criminal record from deportation and allows them to legally work in the country.

At 36, Garcia is too old to qualify for the Obama program. {snip}


But legal scholars and others say Garcia faces obstacles if he wins his law license.

Garcia will have to work for himself because no law firm or other employers could legally hire him. And he may be automatically disqualified from representing certain clients and taking on some types of cases because of his citizenship status.

“Garcia is not qualified to practice law because he continually violates federal law by his presence in the United States,” former State Bar prosecutor Larry DeSha said in one of the few “friend of the court” briefs filed opposing Garcia’s licensing.

A similar case is brewing in Florida. That state’s Supreme Court has so far refused to certify a person living illegally in the U.S. as a lawyer, but has not issued a final ruling.


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  • WmarkW

    A headline like this should always include “illegal” in front of “immigrant.”
    Our opponents try to obliterate the distinction by indifference, but we should keep reminding everyone of the distinction between theft and wages, a pharmacist and drug dealer, or rape and lovemaking.

  • Oil Can Harry

    Once again the p.c. media refers to an illegal invader as an “immigrant”.

  • I think disbarment for moral turpitude would be fair.

  • Spartacus

    And why hasn’t he been deported ? He’s not exactly living in the shadows, and you know where to damn find him… KICK HIM OUT !

    • Homo_Occidentalis

      Hussein Obama, The Traitor-in-Chief, has tied ICE’s hands and has made it clear that they will not be deported under his watch. ICE’s morale is at an all time low and the invaders grow ever more emboldened as they openly flout our laws.

      Obama and Holder know that if there is no American border then there is no America. He wants a polyglot nation that he can divide against itself and use to do his bidding.

  • I heard Mexico has a shortage of abogados. What are you waiting for Holmes?

  • Evette Coutier

    Not one single Hispanic group came out and stood up for George Zimmerman, no public officials either. So much for their loyalty. Where was Rubio? We don’t need more disloyal anti American public officials in government. It’s not like there is a shortage of them now. We need loyal Americans, men and women who put their own people before non-Americans. Tell him to go to Mexico and serve his people and his home.

  • JohnEngelman

    They know he is here illegally. They ought to deport him.

  • bigone4u

    I’m surprised Obongo is not considering an illegal for a seat on the Supreme Court. After all, “law professor” (a joke if there ever was one) Obama seeks judges who don’t understand the law and who won’t abide by it. This guy can sit next to Sotomayor, the “wise Latina.” I guarantee you she will side with him in deciding his case.

    • NorthSea

      In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary said that Obama was not a law professor, but merely a law lecturer.

  • Diversity Awareness Brigade

    Diversity is allowed to take oaths to Whitey’s laws and then start breaking the law in the ongoing struggle against racism. It’s not an ethical violation if the goal is transformation.

    Even the All White Supremes started doing it 1954. Read Rosalie Gordon’s Nine Men Against America.

    “There is no law that should be respected when it serves to uphold racist White privilege.”

    -Bishop “Big Daddy” Roosevelt

  • White Mom in WDC

    So this man breaks the law all of his life and wants to become a lawyer in the USA. He is among kin in the legal profession, just add the suffix -stein

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Well, hell, why not let the illegal practice law in California? California is already so far gone that it doesn’t even matter at this point. The moron in the statehouse, Gov. Brown, and his super majority of DemoRATS already exempt illegals from the rules and laws the rest of us must follow:

    If Assembly Bill 817 is passed, non-citizens, also known as legal resident aliens, who are not eligible to vote in American elections, and who may have limited English language skills, would be allowed to work as poll workers at California’s polling stations. The bill passed the state Senate on July 8 on a 22-10 party line vote.


    California is all set to release up to 9,600 more prison inmates into society, most of them moderate-to-high-risk criminals, under the terms of a 2008 Supreme Court ruling suggesting that overcrowding was violating inmates’ Constitutional rights.

    The state has already released some 37,000 prisoners under Jerry Brown’s infamous “realignment” program, many of whom have gone on to commit crimes including rape and murder.

    Meanwhile, a judge orders Sheriff Arpaio to be monitored because he enforces the law.

    Even if Sergio the illegal doesn’t get his way, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is all set to introduce legislation that will grant the illegal the right to practice law in California no matter what the courts rule.

    Three guesses as to what kind of law Sergio is going to practice.


  • John Smith

    Well, he can vote in our elections as a non-citizen. He can have kids and force us to pay to raise them. He can go to law school and default on the loan forcing us to pick up the tab. Etc… One may be sitting in the White House as president for all we know. All of this is very empowering to non-citizens and after awhile they wonder why they can’t just have it all at our expense since they can take so much already.

    • borogirl54

      As an illegal alien, he cannot qualify for any federal financial aid including student loans. To apply for federal financial assistance, he has to fill out the FAFSA form and before it is processed, the Social Security number on the form is verified to make sure that it is his. He may have gotten private scholarships but that is about it.

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        California allows illegal aliens to access public funds for college tuition.

        California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the “Dream Act.”


    • Yale2001

      So sad and true, John.

  • borogirl54

    He claims that his US citizen father applied for a green card in 1995 and he is still waiting for his number to come up. In the meantime, he is in the country without legal presence or status. If he works at all, he probably uses an ITIN number, or a stolen SSN. Ironically, the law school that he went to is not accredited by the ABA, which most states, except California require schools to have before any of their graduates can take the State Bar exam. The reason he went to this school is because no ABA accredited school would accept him without papers.

  • borogirl54

    Hell yeah! I would and I am Asian.

  • Sick of it

    Give him the license, disbar him for breaking the law, then deport him.

  • ViktorNN

    The only argument they have in their favor is that they’re here.

    Every day they’re here is a challenge to us to kick them out. And when we don’t kick them out they think that means they have a right to be here. They see our weakness as giving them legitimacy, as giving them rights to our country. The example our weakness sets just encourages more of them to come here and give it a try.

    This guy is rubbing our faces in it. He should be picked up immediately, driven to the wall separating San Diego from Tijuana, and literally tossed right over.

  • Yale2001

    He actually says that he doesn’t fear deportation because of the notoriety his case has received. Does that not tell you how corrupt our country is?

    • Greg Thomas

      Not one illegal invader fears deportation, thanks to our government that continues to pander to them and enpower them by disregarding our laws. That’s the problem.

  • Greg Thomas

    Sure he passed the bar, but he apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the word illegal. My only question is why hasn’t this illegal invader already been deported? He certainly is not “living in the shadows,” as the open border, reconquista would like you to believe.
    California has never met an illegal invader it didn’t fall in love with. He’ll be the next governor of California.

  • PaloAltoCA

    Why is there such a strong interest in restricting people’s rights to move from place to place? That should be what’s illegal.