In a first, an appeals court in New York on Wednesday granted a law license to an illegal immigrant who was brought to the United States when he was a child and allowed to stay under President Barack Obama’s amnesty order.
Cesar Vargas’s mother brought him to the United States from Mexico when he was 5. He went to college and law school in New York City and passed the bar. As he was here illegally, a court committee recommended against his licensing but said the court should decide.
Vargas, an activist who pushes for changes to immigration laws, is eligible to work in the United States under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that gives work status and defers deportation action for some immigrants.
The court said it found “no legal impediment or rational basis for withholding the privilege of practicing law in the state of New York from undocumented immigrants who have been granted DACA relief.”
California is the only other state allowing law license for those whose parents entered the country illegally.
Jose Perez, deputy general counsel at LatinoJustice who represented Vargas, called the decision a “major advance in immigrants’ rights.”
On Vargas’s Twitter feed, he said, “NY, my home, OFFICIALLY says I can be a licensed lawyer!”