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

Posted Mar 7, 2012 9:33 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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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.

Meanwhile, courts in California and Florida are considering similar cases involving two other Mexican immigrants, Sergio Garcia, who was brought to the U.S. at 17 months of age, and Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, who came here at age nine.

"It was very difficult. It was a challenge," said Vargas, who paid for his education with the help of a private CUNY fund, a scholarship from the Puerto Rican Bar Association, donations and family help and a seven-day-a-week part-time restaurant job. He said he revealed his undocumented immigration status because "We need to step out of the shadows. That's the only way we can tell our stories."

He worked as an intern for the Brooklyn district's attorney office and the state Supreme Court, the AP article notes.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Undocumented Law Grad Can’t Get Driver’s License, But Hopes for Fla. Supreme Court OK of Law License"

ABAJournal.com: "Former Washington Post Reporter Loses Driver’s License After Revealing His Undocumented Status".

ABAJournal.com: "Can an Undocumented Immigrant Be Admitted to Practice? California Supreme Court Must Decide"

Updated March 8 to include subsequent related coverage.

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