Court will decide on admission of undocumented immigrants in 2014
California Supreme Court has delayed a decision until early next year on
whether undocumented immigrants may be licensed as lawyers. Meanwhile, the court
asked for input on a new state law in support of the idea.
court has been mulling whether to admit Sergio C. Garcia, who was born in
Mexico and brought to the United States by his parents. Garcia has had an
approved application for a visa since 1995, but is still waiting for the visa
to be issued. The State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners found in the meantime that
Garcia had met all the requirements for a license and recommended his admission.
the U.S. Department of Justice argued that federal law prohibits Garcia’s
admission. It cited the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act, which bans undocumented immigrants from receiving “public
benefits” unless state law directs otherwise.
the justices indicated at oral argument that their hands
may be tied by the federal law, the Latino Caucus introduced state legislation expressly
providing that undocumented immigrants are eligible for admission to the bar in
California. Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1024 last month, and it goes into effect
court asked the parties to file supplemental briefs to address the question of
how the new legislation affects the case. The court will also accept amicus briefs
until Nov. 15.
case will be resubmitted Jan. 2, and the court will have 90 days from then to make
more information about the case, read the briefs and other filings.