California Court Grants Law License to Undocumented Immigrant

Sergio Garcia moved to the U.S. 20 years ago to pick almonds with his father before putting himself through law school

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The California Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for an undocumented immigrant to a get law license, which will make the state the first to open its legal industry to people living in the country illegally.

The case is the result of a legal challenge brought by Sergio Garcia, 36, who came to the United States 20 years ago to pick almonds with his father before working his way through community college, Reuters reports. Garcia went to law school, passed the bar and applied for citizenship in 1994, something he is still working toward, the Associated Press reports.

Garcia is challenging a 1996 law that prohibits government agencies — or groups that use public funds — from granting professional licenses to people living in the U.S. illegally. The case has put the Obama administration, which opposes granting the license, at odds with state officials, including the California Bar Association and the state’s attorney general, who have supported Garcia’s bid.

The ruling in Garcia’s favor comes after the state legislature passed a bill last year authorizing the court to allow qualified applicants into the state bar without regard for immigration status.