LatinoJustice PRLDEF Urges California Supreme Court to Allow Sergio Garcia to Practice Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2013

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in the novel case of Sergio C. Garcia, an undocumented law school graduate who has applied to join the California Bar.

If the court grants Garcia California Bar membership and the state license to practice law, it would set a far-reaching precedent that would reverberate in many other states including New York. A similar case involving a Florida DREAMer is currently pending before the Florida Supreme Court.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF joined by the global law firm Orrick submitted an amicus brief on behalf of Cesar Vargas, a CUNY Law graduate and leader of the DREAMer Bar who has applied for New York bar admission.

Mr. Vargas’ amicus brief contends that denying Mr. Garcia admission on the basis of his immigration status would contravene public policy and is not barred by federal law. Moreover, that Garcia having passed the moral character determination and found qualified and recommended for admission by the California State Bar Committee of Bar Examiners would be able to competently and ethically represent clients as any other licensed lawyer in California.

Cesar Vargas who recently turned 30 was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was 5 years old. He graduated from CUNY law school in 2011, and subsequently passed the NYS Bar Examination in 2011. He submitted his application to be admitted to the New York Bar to the NYS Appellate Division in October of 2012 which is still pending before the Committees on Character and Fitness.

“This is an important and potentially precedent-setting case concerning DREAMer law graduates being able to pursue their professional aspirations “ said Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF who is representing Mr. Vargas on his bar application. “The federal government has recognized that these individuals commonly known as “DREAMers”, should be afforded the opportunity to come out of the shadows and be legally recognized while pursuing higher education and employment opportunities and continuing to make valuable contributions to the American fabric.”

Vargas has received the written support from prominent members of Congress including U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), - leading sponsor of the federal DREAM Act, Rep. Nydia Velazquez and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Mr. Garcia who is now 36 years old was approved for an immigrant visa in 1995, and has now been waiting 18 years for the visa to become available. In that time, he graduated from law school, and passed the 3 day California State Bar examination and applied for admission to the California bar in 2011.

The California Supreme Court in May 2012 then invited submissions to address several questions concerning whether approval of Garcia’s application is precluded by federal or state law. LatinoJustice PRLDEF, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris, and over a dozen other legal groups submitted amicus (“friend of the court”) briefs supporting Garcia’s application to be admitted to the California State Bar as a licensed attorney. After almost a year, the California Supreme Court will finally hear arguments on the case.

Read the amicus brief here.

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