Friday, March 09, 2012

An Illegal Legal Beagle?

Yet another sad story about an illegal who realizes that being illegal has possible consequences.

ABA Journal: CUNY Law Grad Reveals Undocumented Status, Fears He Can’t Practice Despite Passing NY Bar

A 28-year-old Mexican immigrant who graduated from law school at the City University of New York and passed the state bar exam in November fears he will not be able to practice law in New York because he was illegally brought to this country as a 5-year-old child by his mother.

Cesar Vargas says he will have to mark the "other" category when he fills out an application with the New York Court of Appeals to register as a lawyer, which asks applicants whether they are citizens, legal residents or have a visa to be in the United States, the Associated Press reports.
Of course, any firm that might hire Cesar Vargas as an attorney is also going to get into trouble due to his illegal status. On the other hand, perhaps he's looking for admission to some public interest legal organization where his legal status might be less of a concern, or he'll just open up a solo shop and operate illegally without all the headache of paperwork and tax filing and such.

That the New York State Bar fails to do a character and fitness review, including immigration status before permitting a person to sit for the exam is very strange. In contrast, Michigan and many other state bars require the Character and Fitness application to be submitted before you take the bar and will hold your results until you are cleared.

It is also interesting that his illegal status never came up during his admission process for University, Law School, etc. Considering that he's working at a restaurant he's either submitted false documents to get that position or is being paid under the table, neither of which helps his character and fitness claim much.

The article also fails to mention if CUNY charged him in-state or out of state tuition. If in-state, which is most likely, New Yorkers can be happy to know that even more of their tax dollars subsidized his education.

It will be fun to see how the New York State Bar handles this one. One would think that illegal immigration status would disqualify a person from being admitted as an attorney on character and fitness grounds but we will see where the case goes.

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