Published on:

Illegal Immigrant Passed The Bar Exam But Not Allowed To Practice

exam.jpgYou don’t have to personally endure the rigors involved in becoming a lawyer to know that it is one of the most challenging endeavors a person can undertake. Cesar Vargas knows all too well what is required to become an attorney in the United States. Vargas has lived in New York City since he moved there with his family at the age of five and it was there that he was an honor student in his undergraduate work as well as in law school. He did an internship with a judge on the State Supreme Court as well as with a district attorney in Brooklyn and a U.S. congressman and passed the state bar exam with flying colors. So it is natural for anyone who knows this about Cesar Vargas to wonder why he had to hire an immigration attorney in order to become a certified lawyer in the state of New York.

Since Cesar Vargas is an unauthorized immigrant the State Supreme Court-appointed committee that performed the background and character evaluations for him made the determination that they could not recommend his certification. They said that such a decision would be more appropriately made by the Legislature or an individual court. For Mr. Vargas’s part, he has been left with little more than what he calls “the sense that all that work was for nothing.”

Like the immigration issue itself, the issue of whether or not undocumented persons should be allowed to practice law in the United States is a challenging one. Since federal immigration law has yet to be overhauled, it is left to individual states to address and enforce the current laws on their own. But that does little to help Mr. Vargas and others like him who have lived in the United States for the better part of their lives and have worked hard at achieving an admirable and lofty goal only to have their hopes and aspirations dashed and their hard work rendered moot because of their status.

Mr. Vargas’s lawyer have made the argument that New York state law does not prohibit admission to the state bar solely on the basis of immigration status. Additionally, they argue that he is allowed to work under the deferred action program which essentially acts as a work authorization provision for qualified immigrants who were illegally brought into the U.S. as children.

Mr. Vargas’s case is far from the only one of its kind. Another undocumented immigrant in California by the name of Sergio Garcia graduated from law school and passed the California state bar exam in 2009. However, he had his bar admission recommendation shifted to the State Supreme Court when his immigration status was discovered. California state law has since passed a bill that allows unauthorized immigrants to practice law there but Mr. Garcia’s case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

If you or someone you know has experienced a situation similar to that of Mr. Vargas or Mr. Garcia or is facing any other immigration issue, please visit the website of Austin immigration law firm Lyttle Law Firm, or contact their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.