Supreme Court Considering Undocumented Immigrants to Practice Law

The California Supreme Court is deciding whether an undocumented immigrant will be qualified to practice law in the United States.

The man, 35-year-old Sergio Garcia, was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents when he was just 17 months old. Garcia has since put himself through law school and was found to be a good candidate for practicing law in 2009 after he passed his bar exam.

Garcia attended law school at California State University in Chico, and has been working as a paralegal. Although he applied for his legal residency 18 years ago, he is still waiting to hear back, according to the San Francisco Gate. Because the State Bar started asking for candidate’s legal status several years ago, the court was notified of the case after the association gave Garcia an extensive background check. However, until he acquires U.S. citizenship, he may not be able to practice law.

Stanford Law professor Deborah Rhode told the Los Angeles Times that although she doubts Garcia’s case will pass through the court, his story may be able to further his career.

“Some of these cases are really heart-wrenching on the facts, especially undocumented immigrants who are brought over to this country at a young age, who go through the school system, who managed to triumph over a lot of obstacles, and who have now invested all this money in a degree,” she told the news source.

Garcia’s case isn’t the first to go before the Supreme Court. An undocumented Florida State University graduate is being represented by one of his former professors in a Florida Supreme Court hearing regarding his ability to practice law in the state as an illegal immigrant. The 25-year-old man was also brought into the country by his parents, according to the Tampa Bay Times.