Undocumented immigrant granted admission to the State Bar
In a case of first impression, the California Supreme Court has granted a
law license to an undocumented immigrant.
Sergio C. Garcia was born in Mexico in 1977 and brought to California by his
parents when he was a minor. Garcia has had an approved application for a visa
since 1995, but has been waiting since then for the visa to be issued.
Meanwhile, the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners found that Garcia had
met all the requirements for a license – including passage of the bar exam and a positive moral
character determination – and recommended his admission to the bar.
In its unanimous Jan. 2 decision,
the court said that while federal law generally restricts an undocumented
immigrant’s ability to obtain a professional license, a state law that went
into effect Jan. 1 removed that potential obstacle to Garcia’s admission. The
new state law also “reflects that the Legislature and the Governor have
concluded that the admission of an undocumented immigrant who has met all the
qualifications for admission to the State Bar is fully consistent with this
state’s public policy, and…we find no basis to disagree with that conclusion.”
State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said of the decision: "With
today's ruling, the California Supreme Court reaffirms the Committee of Bar
Examiners' finding as not a political decision but rather one grounded in the
For more information about the case, read the briefs and other filings.