California AG Supports Granting Illegal Aliens a Law License.
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California AG Supports Granting Illegal Aliens a Law License.

July 23, 2012, 3:02 pm
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The Times They Are A-Changin

Bob Dyan sang in the 60’s "The Times They Are A-Changin".  Lyrics that rings true today, as it did in the turbulent 60’s.

There is a change, however. Today the impassioned plea is not to end the Vietnam war, but to avoid a culture war brewing within our borders.  Just look at the case of  Sergio Varge, an  illegal immigrant who  passed the California Bar and  his admission is now pending with the California Supreme Court.  It was a struggle of momentous proportions as Garcia passed the Bar on the first try, with the help of odd-jobs and self-help books to pave the way.

Garcia acknowledges that he entered the U.S unlawfully as a toddler with his parents.  His parents applied for legal residency in 1995. Seventeen years later, the  application is still pending. His father is a citizen and his mother, a permanent resident.

But his aspiration to become a lawyer was thwarted, because of his immigration status.   Surprisingly the current Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris, who filed a brief with the court endorsing Garcia’s application, supported his appeal to the California Supreme court.

"Admitting Garcia to the bar would be consistent with state and federal policy that encourages immigrants, both documented and undocumented, to contribute to society," Harris wrote in her brief to the Supreme Court.

Jerome Fishkin Garcia's attorney argued that Garcia deserves  the opportunity to practice law.

"Sergio is poster boy for the sort of immigrant that made this country great. He comes here, he works hard, he's not been on welfare, not taken student loans and worked his way all the way through," Fishkin commented.

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to file its brief to the state Supreme Court in August.

In a similar case, Jose Godinez-Samperio, a Mexican native who entered the United States legally by means of a tourist visa with his parents 16 years ago, graduated Florida State University College of Law, was the valedictorian of the Armwood High School class of 2004, and an Eagle Scout cannot practice law because he is an undocumented immigrant.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which holds the power to grant membership to the Bar, has requested the state Supreme Court to decide whether it can allow someone who is not in the country legally to practice law. Last week, the Supreme Court marked the case as "high profile."

In New York, another Mexican immigrant After Interning for Brooklyn DA’s Office and Passing Bar Exam cannot work as a lawyer because he was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.

Cesar Vargas was 5 years old when he arrived from Puebla, Mexico, with his mother in 1990. Now a 28-year-old City University of New York law graduate and said he is looking forward to see how the California and Florida courts decide two similar cases involving Mexican immigrants.

The California state Supreme Court is close  to deciding  whether to deny, Sergio Garcia’s  law license only on the basis of his immigration status. Garcia is a Mexican immigrant whose parents brought him in through the Mexican border when he was 17 months old.

These immigrants and many others in a similar plight could soon become part of a national debate.

Godinez-Samperio has an influential team of supporters. His attorney, a former law professor, Sandy D'Alemberte, was a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives from Miami and, more importantly a former president of the American Bar Association.

"It is unfair to deny him the credentials he's earned," said D'Alemberte, pointing out that there's nothing in the "Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Florida Bar" that requires applicants to prove their immigration status.

In actuality, D'Alemberte said, Godinez-Samperio has been frank about his status at every occasion, disclosing it on college and law school applications.

Three other past American Bar Association presidents, two of whom once were in charge of the Florida Bar, are taking Godinez-Samperio’s side. Agreeing with D'Alemberte, they recommended that Godinez-Samperio can practice law in Florida if he undertakes pro-bono cases.

Immigration advocates have been lobbying Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented children who were brought to this country at an early age, for more than a decade. Meanwhile these children become adults.  Many are not so fortunate or industrious to undertake the challenges of obtaining a law degree or other advanced degree and find themselves between “the rock and the hard place” as they cannot obtain student loans to go to school, cannot obtain a license and are unable to work legally. 

Congress in its wisdom seems to have ignored these children. and the large issue of OCmprehensive Immigration Reform.  Perhaps we are "just blowin in the Wind."

Author: Moises Apsan
Attorney with over 35 years of experience. Past president Federal Bar Association NJ Chapter (1997-2002). Offices in New York, NY, Newark, NJ. Tel: 888-460-1800 and
Apsan Law Offices
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California AG Supports Granting Illegal Aliens a Law License.
California AG Supports Granting Illegal Aliens a  Law License.
Source: Moises Apsan
Monday 23 July 2012

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