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Bill for Allowing Law Licenses to Non-Citizens Clears California Assembly
On Thursday evening, a bill to allow law licenses to illegal immigrants cleared the California Legislature. The bill was prompted by the plight of Sergio Garcia, a man deemed fit to practice law by the California Bar, but whose application was rejected by the California Supreme Court last week.
While rejecting Garcia’s bid for a law license, the Court indicated that it was not the responsibility of the court to ease the situation, but the federal laws that prohibited professional licenses to illegal immigrants also allowed state legislatures to carve out exemptions.
Garcia was brought into the country illegally by his parents and his application for Green Card is pending since the 90s.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez promoted the measure which was backed by the Latino Caucus.
Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine) said, “Let’s at least take the step of saying someone who was brought here through no fault of their own and is otherwise qualified to exercise a professional degree is allowed to do so.”
However, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey observed that broader problems in the country’s visa system were highlighted by the fact that Garcia’s green card application has been pending for 19 years without a yea or nay.
Gonzalez, who promoted the bill and is a licensed attorney said, “By the grace of God, I was born on this side of the border … By the grace of God, after passing the bar, I was able to be admitted to the bar.”
She said the bill, AB-1024, which passed the Assembly with a bipartisan 60-3 vote, would have a broad impact on people who are allowed to pay in-state tuition without legal residency, by virtue of a 2004 law.
The bill will now go to the governor for his approval.