News / USA

California Ruling on Undocumented Lawyer Gives Hope to Many

California Ruling on Undocumented Lawyer Gives Hope to Undocumented Residentsi
X
January 09, 2014 11:36 PM
The California Supreme Court cleared the way last week for an undocumented immigrant named Sergio Gargia to be licensed as a lawyer. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, the ruling comes amid a national debate over illegal immigration -- and gives hope to other undocumented residents who entered the country as children
Mike O'Sullivan
The California Supreme Court cleared the way last week for an undocumented immigrant named Sergio Garcia to be licensed as a lawyer. The ruling comes amid a national debate over illegal immigration, and gives hope to undocumented residents who entered the country as children.

The ruling, made possible by a recent act of the California legislature, means Sergio Garcia can practice law, despite his undocumented status.

Law professor Niels Frenzen of the University of Southern California says the state court ruling is narrow.

“It does not address any other professional licenses.  It does not address any other type of government benefits," said Frenzen.

And it does not allow Garcia to work as an employee of a law firm, but Frenzen says he can work for clients as an independent lawyer.

Garcia, now 36,  tells VOA's Spanish service that his case has wider relevance.

"My case opens the door for many young people, not just immigrants or the undocumented, who are frustrated with an education system that the government, I think, has abandoned," said Garcia.

For 21-year-old Luis Antezana, the ruling is good news.  He came to the United States with his parents at age seven, and realized in high school that he is undocumented.

“Finally, something good.  Good things are happening," said Antezana.

Luis is covered under the Obama administration program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which gave him a work permit and a two-year respite from deportation.

Sergio Garcia was not eligible because he was over age 30, the upper age limit for applicants.  The program was announced in June 2012, and by late August of last year, U.S. officials had approved more than 450,000 applications.

But Luis and others like him are barred from getting educational loans insured by the federal government.  He received a private scholarship for undocumented students at California State University, Los Angeles.  He is active in student government and hopes to become a lawyer to help remedy the problems of the undocumented.

“... all the disparities that happen to a lot of people, and it finally hit me.  I said, I have got to do things to change things for myself, for people who in my position, and for future children, not to go through what I am going through," he said.

Law professor Niels Frenzen says the California ruling does not set a precedent.

“But it is certainly a persuasive decision, a decision that other state supreme courts can look to for guidance," he said.

The states of Florida and New York are also considering cases of undocumented law school graduates who hope to be licensed as lawyers, as the nation wrestles with questions surrounding its undocumented residents.  Their number is estimated at more than 11 million.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid