Latino Caucus Pursues Legislative Relief For Dreamers Seeking A Law License

September 06, 2013

SACRAMENTO – Leaders of the California Latino Legislative Caucus issued the statement below in support of AB 1024 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). This measure, which is co-authored by the Latino Caucus, permits the State Supreme Court to admit as an attorney any applicant who has fulfilled all requirements for a law license notwithstanding their undocumented status:

“It is our intent to allow all hardworking individuals who have met the rigorous standards required for admission to the State Bar, to be granted a license,” stated Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair of the Caucus. “This bill is critical to ensuring that all residents, irrespective of legal status, can continue to pursue their American Dream.”

AB 1024 is a direct response to a case currently pending at the California State Supreme Court.  This week the Court heard testimony in the case In Re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission (S202512), which concerned Mr. Garcia’s petition to obtain a law license in California.  Having passed the State Bar examination and fulfilled all other requirements, Mr. Garcia was routinely sworn into the legal profession in 2011.  Two weeks later his license was rescinded on the basis that the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act passed by Congress in 1996 prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving professional licenses with the use of public funds, unless state law explicitly overrides it. 

"At Wednesday's oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Sergio Garcia case, Justices made it clear that federal immigration law specifically allows states to grant professional licenses to qualified undocumented residents,” stated Assembly Member Gonzalez. “However, they also made it clear that for a state to do so it must act affirmatively.  This legislation affirmatively grants authority to the Supreme Court to issue a law license to any qualified applicant in accordance with all current federal law.”

As amended today, AB 1024 explicitly allows the Supreme Court to admit all law license applicants who have fulfilled the admission requirements regardless of immigration status. 

“Dreamers like Mr. Garcia work hard and consistently play by the book to better themselves and contribute to society,” said Assembly Member V. Manuel Pérez, Vice-Chair of the Caucus. “Mr. Garcia has met all the standards of the State Bar, and justice and fairness require that we act to provide legal clarity for Mr. Garcia and any other Dreamer in similar circumstances.”

The amended bill is now pending action in the State Senate.


CONTACT: Lizette Mata (916) 651-4033