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Should Illegal Immigrants Be Allowed To Practice Law?

by Countable | 8.16.17

What's the story?

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution on Monday demanding that Congress allow undocumented immigrants to practice law.

Why does it matter?

The ABA resolution reads, "That the American Bar Association supports the principle that bar admission should not be denied based solely on immigration status."

The ABA then urges Congress to amend the U.S. Code known as 8 U.S.C. 5 § 1621(d) to include this text:

"A state court vested with exclusive authority to regulate admission to the bar may, by rule, order, or other affirmative act, permit an undocumented alien seeking legal status to obtain a professional license to practice law in that jurisdiction."

As Law Newz explains, this change "wouldn’t require state courts to license undocumented lawyers, but it would make it clear that the federal government won’t get in the way."

The resolution was sponsored by Thomas Kim, whose parents brought him to the U.S. from South Korea on a tourist visa then never returned. Kim has said it’s unclear if he’ll be able to practice law when he graduates in 2018, but he remained hopeful after the ABA vote on Monday.

"As an undocumented law student, I am encouraged and thankful by the ABA’s passing of [the resolution]," Kim said. “This means undocumented law students all over the country will be able to become licensed attorneys, substantively contributing to their communities.”

Some states – including California and New York – already allow illegal immigrants to practice law, resulting in the National Review declaring "illegal immigrants can now defend the laws they break." Given the Republican control of Congress, and President Trump’s policies against undocumented immigrants, it’s unlikely the resolution will be adopted under the current administration.

Attorney Cesar Vargas explained to RT.com that the resolution isn’t binding, but rather "provides guidance to courts and legislatures who are grappling with this [issue], and overall Congress itself, to say the legal profession approves of this."

Vargas, a Mexican-born participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, went through a four-year battle to open up the legal profession to "undocumented immigrants."

Vargas says that even when illegal immigrants are allowed to earn a Juris Doctor degree, the job prospects "depend on the state agency."

"I could work for the Mayor’s office," he told RT. “I could work for a city council member but I couldn’t work for the District Attorney because you have to be a citizen. Even without DACA you could set up your own law firm.”

Speaking of the recently passed resolution, Vargas said, "People like myself, I spent a decade being undocumented but during that time I went to college, went to law school, people started business, become licensed professionals, and if anything this reaffirms our commitment towards a permanent legislative solution."

What do you think?

Should illegal immigrants be allowed to practice law? Hit the Take Action button and tell your reps how they should vote on the resolution.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: Possawatvia iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(156)
  • Nikki
    08/16/2017
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    After they're citizens, sure. If they're just here illegally, nope. Hey, but whatever happened to the bees going extinct, coral dying, and the rest of global warming's real effects? Can we focus on saving the fucking world and sort out illegal lawyers later. 🤦🏽‍♀️

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  • Stickyfingers
    08/16/2017
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    No. They are illegal and breaking the law by being in the USA.

    Like (30)
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  • Cary
    08/16/2017
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    They are here illegally. I just feel like if you're going to practice law you should be obeying the laws. This one doesn't require a ton of brain cells to understand that it is wrong.

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  • operaman
    08/16/2017
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    So we allow law breakers to practice law. It's my understanding the law graduates applying for a state license are not welcome. If an illegal immigrant lawyer wins a case, will the courts decision be valid upon appeal? Can disbarred lawyers who have committed legal violations be allowed to practice? Can Hillary get her license back? Didn't she fail to meet requirements for Continuation Education -CE. Will illegals taint the law profession?

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  • Ticktock
    08/16/2017
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    How can an illegal alien practice law? How can they get a license? Once they walk into a courthouse how are they able to walk out?

    Like (18)
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  • Kodiwodi
    08/16/2017
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    This is why we shouldn't call any human illegal. The way this was stated was erroneous and knowing that people don't read the whole article probably made them think it was referring to just any old border jumper. This is referring to DACA. People we have a contract with. People who have lived here most of their lives. If the ABA thinks it's ok then I see no reason why they cannot receive their law degree, take their chance at the Bar exam and practice like anyone else. Of course where they work is restricted by their status but they could be invaluable assets to the community.

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  • Bfowler7
    08/16/2017
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    No they should be deported and go thru the necessary steps to enter our Country!

    Like (10)
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  • Poli.Sci
    08/16/2017
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    This is a contradiction in terms...ILLEGALs practicing LAW. Enough said

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  • Karan
    08/16/2017
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    I'm proud of everyone in the comments like damn. Usually you guys are commies but now I see you've changed. Obviously they shouldn't practice law if they are in violation of it

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  • David
    08/16/2017
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    No their illegal and breaking the law so In what capacity would they be permitted to practice law ??

    Like (8)
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  • Karen
    08/16/2017
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    Absolutely not. They must be deported immediately

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  • Lawrence
    08/16/2017
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    No..... this is crazy thinking on this resolution.

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  • Bill
    08/17/2017
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    No, they're illegal and should be deported. Since when is it okay to violate federal laws.

    Like (6)
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  • Dan
    08/16/2017
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    By nature of being here "illegally" they have already shown a disregard for our laws and cannot be trusted to arbitrate or uphold said laws. Under no circumstances should someone who has entered the country illegally and has yet to rectify the situation by obtaining legal residence, be allowed to practice law in this country.

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  • Joseph
    08/17/2017
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    That's a stupid question of course not. How can someone violating Federal Law be ethical enough to practice law?

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  • John
    08/17/2017
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    The American Bar Association has revealed the absolute stupidity of its leadership.

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  • Jackie
    08/17/2017
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    No. What next? Vote? Run for Congress? President?

    Like (5)
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  • David
    08/25/2017
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    Seriously? Their first act coming to our country is to enter illegally, to cheat to get ahead of those who have entered legally. Cheaters should not be rewarded, they should be sent back to the end of the line and it should be noted in their record that they cheated and broke our laws.

    Like (4)
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  • Jennifer
    08/17/2017
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    No one here illegally should be allowed to stay in our country much less practice law! Should we just pick and choose which laws should be enforced ??

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  • Blackhawk.U.S.Army.Vet
    08/18/2017
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    Stupid question for one that breaks the law.

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