Undocumented immigrants fight their right to work as lawyers in the United States

Three undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, and who later graduated law schools in California, Florida and New York, are trying to gain entry to their state bars so they can work as attorneys.

An undocumented immigrant who passed the Florida Bar exam but was denied the ability to practice law by examiners says an Obama administration change to U.S. immigration policy means he should be given his lawyer license, reported the Associated Press.

In April, José Godínez-Samperio filed a legal challenge after he was denied the license in a first of its kind case at the Florida’s Supreme Court.He now hopes President Obama’s new policy will offer a way for him to live out his law dreams.

Obama announced last month that undocumented immigrants no older than 30 who arrived as children, have no criminal history, and have high school degrees or military service could stay and work in this country.

In a motion filed Thursday, Godínez-Samperio told the state Supreme Court that the administration’s order makes him eligible for legal immigration status and work authorization in the U.S.

Other two immigrants have passed bar exams but have been denied the right to work as lawyers in New York and California because of their immigration status. Cesar Vargas – a CUNY School of Law graduate who entered the country illegally when he was 5 years old – passed the New York bar exam and opened a legislative lobbying firm, DRM Capitol Group LLC, according to Fox News Latino.

Sergio Garcia‘s family illegally crossed into the USA from Mexico when he was 17 months old, and he went on to graduate from Chico State University and Cal Northern School of Law. He took the state bar exam in July 2009 and passed it but was told he could not join the state bar — a standard requirement for all practicing attorneys — because he had checked a box on his application that said he was in the country illegally.


About tanialara

Tania Lara has a vast experience working as a journalist in Mexico and the U.S. reporting in-depth about the economic contributions and realities of Mexican immigrants. This summer, she will be covering border issues and elections for the 21st Century Border Initiative blog. Her stories about complex cross border matters have been published in Spanish-language media outlets including CNN México, Expansión, and ¡Ahora Sí!, as well as the English-language newspaper The Austin American-Statesman.
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