If you are brought to the United States under illegal circumstances as a child, are you entitled to fundamental American rights upon reaching adulthood? If you go through the American school system, pay American taxes after finding work, and enroll yourself in higher education to contribute to a better America, do you deserve to be treated like an American?
And if you do all these things and pass the bar exam to become a lawyer, don't you deserve the right to help secure the rights of your fellow American citizens?
Many people think yes – even bar examiners responsible for granting people lawyer privileges.
Currently, the only state that allows unauthorized immigrants to practice law is California. This allowance of immigrants into the field resulted from the case of Sergio C. Garcia who came to America as a child, graduated from the Cal Northern School of Law, and passed the bar.
In 2009, after the bar examiners recommended his admission, his case was passed to the State Supreme Court. Shortly after, Garcia inspired a bill to be written and passed by the California State Legislature that allowed immigrants without papers to practice law upon their successful completion of the bar.
This passed bill is now causing other states to rethink immigrations laws after coming across aspiring lawyers like Sergio C. Garcia.
Another aspiring lawyer, Cesar Vargas, recently passed the New York bar exam and is left scratching his head why he can't become a lawyer. He could move to California, yes, but he's motivated to make a change. By teaming up with fellow lawyers and using his legal savvy to make a solid case, his story has created a spark for immigration reform in New York.
According to a New York Times article that featured Vargas' story, "State law, [Vargas] explained, does not appear to make immigration status a criterion for admission. The crux of his argument, he said, is a paragraph in state judiciary law that specifically precludes race, color, creed, national origin or 'alienage' — being a foreigner — as grounds for prohibiting admission."
This paragraph itself, many speculate, will team with his long list of achievements to make New York the second state to allow unauthorized immigrants to become lawyers. Vargas' list of achievements include: honors in undergrad and law school; internships with a judge, district attorney and U.S. congressman; and a "stellar" rating by a State Supreme Court Committee board.
The third aspiring lawyer who is inspiring change is a Mexican immigrant based in Florida who came to the country when he was nine. Since then, Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio has worked to become his absolute best by becoming an Eagles Scout, graduating high school valedictorian, succeeding at Florida State University and, ultimately, passing the bar exam.
According to the Times, Mr. Godinez Samperio believes Congress is to blame for poor immigration laws that make it difficult for hard-working immigrants to succeed and contribute to the country they call home. “The ultimate fault of all of this is Congress,” he told the Times. “They have refused to clarify the law and they have refused to pass immigration reform.”
Currently, the state is reviewing Samperio's case and deciding on whether or not it should pass a bill similar to California's.
Our immigration lawyers in Texas support these great legal professionals who are fighting to gain what they deserve – American rights in return for an investment in themselves, the country, and the country's people.