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Joe Guzzardi: California’s immigration insanity hits new peak

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Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014 12:00 am

With the California Supreme Court’s decision to allow illegal immigrant Sergio Garcia to practice law, the state has hit the nadir of insanity in eliminating distinctions between those here legally and those who are not.

Garcia’s case dates back to 2009 when he first passed the California bar examination. His many allies argued that since Garcia had come to the U.S. as a child and had lived an exemplary life in the more than 20 years since his arrival, including graduating from Cal Northern Law School, the 36-year-old should be allowed to practice.

But in August 2012, the Department of Justice issued an amicus brief stating that federal law prohibits granting professional licenses to illegal immigrants unless a state passes a law allowing it. The California Legislature passed such a law in September 2013; Gov. Jerry Brown signed it in October.

The Supreme Court, the California legislature and Brown ignored other compelling points that should ban Garcia from practicing law.

First, Garcia’s continued presence in the U.S. violates immigration law every day. Furthermore, Garcia can’t be legally employed in the U.S. No law firm, government entity or corporation can legally hire Garcia. Finally, Garcia cannot truthfully take an attorney’s oath of office since it requires that he will “... support the Constitution of the U.S. ...” — a condition which Garcia has already violated.

But Brown, a Yale University Law School graduate and former California attorney general, did take the oath, which includes the following: “I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the state of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counselor-at-law to the best of my knowledge and ability.” When he signed the new legislation, Brown clearly violated his oath.

Immigration advocates hailed the California Supreme Court decision and hope that it will pave the way for similar opinions in other states. Two other cases are pending. In Florida, Jose Godinez-Samperio, 26, and in New York, Cesar Vargas, 30, both aliens who have applied for law licenses, await state Supreme Court decisions.

Ten years ago, it would have been unimaginable that illegal immigrants would be given law licenses. But during the last decade, the pro-immigration lobby has become more well-funded and powerful. Some critics persuasively argue that illegal immigrants are more influential than citizens.

Maybe they’re right. After all, the White House under intense pressure from the pro-immigration lobby, has issued a series of executive actions favorable to illegal immigrants that have circumvented Congress and rewritten immigration law.

Garcia, Godinez-Samperio and Vargas are members of the DREAM Bar Association, a national group formed with guidance from the American Immigration Lawyers Association for the express purpose of advancing the collective causes of would-be illegal immigrant lawyers. The association’s mission, according to its president Jose Magaña, is to urge all 50 states to pass legislation and promulgate rules that would ensure that illegal immigrant students “who have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school, meet the state bar’s character and fitness requirements, and successfully pass the bar examination are able to obtain a law license and fully utilize their legal education.”

If I had to bet on what eventually happens, I’d put my money on the DREAM Bar Association.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He taught English as a second language during the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. Contact him at

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