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Supreme Court decides if undocumented immigrant can practice law

An undocumented immigrant in Florida went to law school, passed the Bar exam and is now waiting on a decision on whether he can legally practice in the United States. The applicant was brought into the U.S. from Mexico on a visitor's visa when he was 9-years-old. His parents overstayed their visas and the family never returned to Mexico. Though he has been education in the United States and lived here most of his life, he is still considered an "illegal" immigrant.

Initially, his application was denied, even though he did graduate law school and passed the Bar exam. Obama's June announcement that immigrants under 30 with no criminal history and who have graduated high school can able to remain in the country and work, could have an impact on the outcome of this case. After this policy change by Homeland Security, the immigrant-applicant filed a motion asking that the new policy be considered when making a decision regarding his right to practice.

Now, the Florida Bar Association is waiting for an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court before making a final decision. In a letter to the applicant, the board stated that he would be notified of a final decision after a Supreme Court decision on the pending Request for Advisory Opinion.

The ruling of this case could have broader impact in professional licensing and on immigrant rights to work. What do you think? Should an undocumented worker have equal access to practice law? Should undocumented immigrants be disqualified from obtaining a license because of their status? Does Obama's new policy give this applicant the right to practice law in Florida?

Source: Miami Herald, "Florida bar: immigrant not disqualified from practicing law," David Royse, Aug. 11, 2012

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