Federal officials have opposed the attempt of an undocumented Mexican immigrant to become a lawyer in California, reported the Associated Press.
The Department of Justice issued its opinion in a brief released Thursday in the case of Sergio Garcia before the California Supreme Court. Federal law bars the state from issuing an attorney’s license to Garcia, who came to the U.S. as a toddler and passed the California’s law bar exam.
The 1996 law, which denies “public benefits” to undocumented immigrants, was drafted to “preclude undocumented aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses issued by states and the federal government,” Justice Department lawyers told the court.
They disagreed with the State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners and with state Attorney General Kamala Harris, both of whom have recommended that Garcia be admitted to the bar and said federal law leaves such issues up to the states. A similar case is pending in Florida.
His father, now a U.S. citizen, sponsored Garcia’s application for legal status and a green card in 1994. The government has found him eligible but put him on a waiting list for final approval, which could take at least another decade.