Undocumented immigrant granted NY law license, joins Chico lawyer Sergio Garcia

Jun 4, 2015 1:29 PM by NBC News

An appeals court in New York has been granted a law license to an immigrant in the country illegally. He becomes the second illegal immigrant allowed to practice in the U.S., joining Chico attorney Sergio Garcia.

The decision making Cesar Vargas, co-director of the DRM Coalition, the first immigrant eligible for the bar is the first New York ruling allowing a law graduate who has been allowed to remain in the country through a program known as DACA eligible for bar admission, according to attorneys in the case. DACA is a program that was authorized by President Barack Obama in 2012 through executive action and has shielded more than 900,000 young immigrants from deportation.

Federal law prohibits the issuance of state professional licenses to immigrants illegally in the U.S., but states can opt out of that prohibition with their own laws. New York had done this and gave its jurisdiction on approving bar admissions to its judiciary.

"This is the first favorable New York court decision explicitly holding that an undocumented law graduate with DACA" meets New York requirements for bar admission, said Jose Perez, associate general counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, which provided Vargas lawyers for his case.

Vargas came to the United States from Mexico illegally when he was 5 years old. He graduated from City University of New York School of Law.

He joins Sergio Garcia in winning a legal challenge to allow him to practice law. Garcia took his challenge to the California Supreme Court and won and Garcia got his license after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a specially crafted bill to let him practice law.


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