SAN DIEGO–California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) applauded the California Supreme Court’s decision today to grant Sergio C. Garcia a license to practice law after it was rescinded earlier because of his status as an undocumented immigrant.
The historic decision comes just one day after legislation, Assembly Bill 1024 authored by Assemblywoman Gonzalez, became effective. AB 1024 empowers members of California’s immigrant community who pass the State Bar exam and are otherwise qualified to practice law as attorneys.
“Today’s decision is another leap forward for California in honoring our commitment to Sergio and so many others who want to serve our communities by practicing law as an attorney,” Gonzalez said. “This ruling gives tangible hope to the many hard-working, young members of our immigrant community, who, under no fault of their own, have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system. I am very proud that I was able to play a role in making this happen.”
In issuing the opinion, the Court stated, “in light of the recently enacted state legislation, we conclude that the … motion to admit Garcia to the State Bar should be granted.”
Having passed the State Bar examination and fulfilled all other requirements, Garcia was routinely sworn into the legal profession in 2011. Two weeks later, his license was rescinded by the State Bar on the basis that a 1996 federal law prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving professional licenses with the use of public funds, unless state law explicitly overrides it.
Directly inspired by Garcia’s case and the oral arguments heard before the Court last September, Assemblywoman Gonzalez authored AB 1024. The bill states that the State of California can grant DREAMers – who have graduated from law school, passed the moral character inspection, and passed the bar exam – a license to practice law. AB 1024 was passed in both houses of the Legislature with broad bipartisan support last September and signed into law by Governor Brown on Oct. 5, 2013.
“Sergio has paved the way for DREAMers and other aspiring attorneys who have worked hard, studied hard, passed the Bar exam and now just want the right to make a living for themselves in a profession they love.” Gonzalez said. “I am very grateful that my colleagues in the Legislature, Gov. Brown and the Court have recognized that California can lead the way in improving the lives of immigrants, even when the federal government fails to lead on the issues that impact the families of our communities.”