Louisiana residents may have heard that a state supreme court ruled unanimously today that an undocumented Mexican immigrant may become a licensed lawyer. The case has gained national attention as federal law holds that immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. may not obtain professional licenses in the absence of a state government override.
This case took place in California, where the state government did recently pass a law providing such an override. That paved the way for today’s ruling.
The immigrant at the center of this case has a story similar to that of many others. The man, 36, has lived in the U.S. for the majority of his life. In fact, he moved to the U.S. with his family when he was only 17 months old. He returned to his native country at the age of 8 or 9, and came back to the U.S. about eight years later.
His father, who is a U.S. citizen, applied for a green card for his son in 1995. Although the application was approved by the federal government, his son has yet to receive the visa.
In the meantime, he has finished high school, college and law school in the U.S.
He passed the state bar, which is necessary to obtain a license to practice law, but when his application went to the state supreme court it stalled because of his immigration status.
While this is a great achievement, the man’s ability to actually practice law for pay is still very limited.
This case is an example of the evolving immigration laws in this country. The legal options available to undocumented immigrants here in Louisiana are very complicated and often in flux.
Source: Reuters, “California court lets undocumented immigrant practice law,” Dan Levine, Jan. 2, 2014