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Undocumented immigrant law school grad’s case heard in Florida high court

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2012 | Employment Immigration |

A Florida law student jumped through all the hoops before being allowed to sit for the Florida bar examination. He got through law school and applied to sit for the bar. He disclosed that he was an undocumented immigrant, and even received a waiver to sit for the bar exam. That waiver was needed due to a 2008 Florida law that requires bar exam applicants to show proof of residency or citizenship.

The law school graduate passed the bar exam and now his plight is before the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Board of Law Examiners has asked the state Supreme Court to decide whether undocumented immigrants can be admitted to the practice of law in the state. The Florida case is one of three such cases in the country.

On the East Coast, an undocumented immigrant in New York is seeking a license to practice law, but that case has not reached the court system. Earlier this year, a 35-year-old undocumented immigrant’s case went before the California Supreme Court on a similar question. In that case, the U.S. Justice Department reportedly told the California high court that the law graduate should not be allowed to practice law in that state.

Tuesday, the Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Florida case. Reuters reports that several justices asked if the federal government should be asked for an opinion in the Florida case.

The law graduate in Florida originally came to the United States legally when he was 9-years-old. He entered the country with his parents on tourist visas, but Reuters reports that the family overstayed their visas.

At oral argument Tuesday, the current administration’s “deferred action” policy for young immigrants was discussed. The Florida law school graduate reportedly has applied for deferred action, which would provide him with a work permit. Two justices reportedly indicated during oral argument that there may be some interest in waiting to see if the deferred action application is approved–at least one justice mentioned that the deferred action policy could be ended depending upon the outcome of the November election.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Florida weighs case of illegal immigrant who passed bar exam,” Saundra Amrhein–Reuters, Oct. 3, 2012