The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed an amicus brief [text] on Thursday with the California Supreme Court [official website] arguing that undocumented immigrants should not be able to practice law in the US even if they passed a state bar exam. California's high court sought the DOJ's guidance in the pending case of an undocumented immigrant, Sergio Garcia, who passed the California bar exam but has not obtained his law license. In its brief, the DOJ argued that Title 8 Section 1621 of the US Code, which governs the terms under which a state can make aliens eligible for benefits, forbids issuing law licenses to illegal aliens:
[T]he only question before the Court is whether Mr. Garcia meets the criteria for admission to the bar under state and federal law. Because he is not an eligible alien under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1621, and thus does not satisfy a condition set out in federal law, the bar application should be denied.The court has not indicated when it will issue its decision whether to allow Garcia to practice law in California.
Immigration [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a contentious issue in the US. Last week, JURIST guest columnist Geoffrey Hoffman declared [JURIST op-ed] that the US Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. United States [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] serves as a strong reminder of the executive branch's power to create and enforce a coherent, and ideally compassionate, immigration policy. Two weeks ago, a coalition of civil rights groups asked a federal judge [JURIST report] to block a portion of Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070, PDF; JURIST news archive] that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop. Earlier in July, JURIST guest columnist Chris Schlag opined [JURIST op-ed] that the Obama administration's policy of "deferred action" toward young undocumented immigrants is a step in the right direction, but that more comprehensive legislation such as the DREAM Act is needed to ensure that the immigration system is fair and legally accountable.