A Florida man has been denied the ability to practice law in the state because he entered the country illegally when he was nine years old. On March 6, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that illegal immigrants are prohibited from holding professional licenses. However, the court added that the state legislature could take action to override the federal immigration law.
According to media sources, the man and his parents came to the U.S. on a tourist visa, but they never returned to their native country. He attended New College and Florida State University where he ultimately earned a law degree. In 2011, he passed the state bar exam. He applied to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevents children who were brought to the country illegally by their parents from being deported, and received a permit to work as a paralegal in 2012.
Reports say that when the man attempted to obtain a law license, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners sought guidance from the state’s supreme court because of the man’s immigration status. However, in a legal brief, the U.S. Department of Justice stated that a law license could not be granted due to that status. The man’s attorney said that he has reached out to state legislators about reforming the law to resolve these types of issues.
The status of being an illegal immigrant can pose very complex and specific problems for individuals who entered the United States as children. For instance, many of these individuals may have progressed through school and college only to find that their work options are limited because of their status. An immigration attorney could help an individual navigate the legal process in order to gain citizenship or obtain a work permit.
Source: FOX News, “Illegal immigrant can’t get law license, Florida high court rules“, March 07, 2014