Undocumented Immigrants Eligible for Admission to State Bar of California

Categories: Immigration Lawyer Blog San Diego

The California Supreme Court recently concluded that Sergio C. Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who applied for admission to the State Bar of California, was eligible for admission to the State Bar.  The Court’s decision rested largely on Governor Jerry Brown having recently signed into law a provision which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain professional licenses in California.  As no federal statute limits California’s right to enact this law, the Supreme Court of California ruled that Mr. Garcia should be admitted to the State Bar.  Ultimately the Court ruled that there is no state law or state public policy that prohibits undocumented immigrants in California from obtaining law licenses.

In the final pages of its decision the Court reviewed Mr. Garcia’s individual application to the State Bar and found that, although Mr. Garcia had once declared he was a permanent resident at the age of 17 and had an infraction for driving without a license, he was a qualified candidate for the State Bar.  The Court granted the Committee of Bar Examiner’s motion to admit Mr. Garcia to the State Bar.

This case and the legislation recently enacted by Governor Brown allows for undocumented immigrants to proceed through the normal application process to the State Bar to obtain a law license.  We will have to wait and see how this case is applied to future undocumented immigrants applying for a law license in California, as ultimately the decision of who to admit to the State Bar is the Committee of Bar Examiner’s.