Press Releases

CAIR-CA: Muslim Civil Rights Group Welcomes Court Decision Allowing Undocumented Attorneys

Sergio-Garcia(SACRAMENTO, CA, 1/31/14) – The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) today welcomed a decision by the state's supreme court to allow an undocumented immigrant the opportunity to work as a fully-licensed attorney.

SEE: California Supreme Court allows undocumented immigrant to work as attorney

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States from Mexico as an infant. After several years in which Garcia left for Mexico to live with his mother, he eventually returned to the U.S. at age 17.

(NOTE: CAIR-CA representatives will be at his swearing-in ceremony February 1 in the state Capitol.)

Despite his lack of equal opportunity due to his undocumented status, he managed to study hard and was admitted to some of the top universities in the country–such as UC Berkeley and Stanford–upon graduating from high school, but he couldn't attend because he didn't have documents. He eventually attended law school, and passed the California bar exam on his first try in 2009; he practiced law for two weeks before finding out his license was invalid.

Earlier this month, the state supreme court made the ruling after a measure signed by Governor Jerry Brown, which allows undocumented immigrants to practice law in California, went into effect on January 1. The ruling marks the first time that a state has allowed someone lacking legal residency to practice law.

Sergio Garcia will be sworn in Saturday, February 1, at noon at the Sacramento Capitol Building.

“We hope that this decision will set a precedent for other states to follow,” said CAIR-Sacramento Valley Executive Director Basim Elkarra. “Our nation needs to move forward in providing a framework for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to obtain legal status and eventual citizenship.” 

CAIR-CA has worked alongside immigrant rights' groups in urging lawmakers to pass critical pieces of legislation that would pave the path towards comprehensive immigration reform. In April 2013 at CAIR-CA's second-annual Muslim Day at the Capitol, more than 150 Muslim community members from across the state lobbied their lawmakers to pass the TRUST Act and the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The former helps rebuild trust between undocumented immigrant communities and law enforcement, and the latter strengthens labor protections for domestic workers. Later that year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed both bills into law, along with a host of other key immigrant rights bills.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 408.986.9874,; CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Yasmin Nouh, 714.776.1847,; CAIR-SD Executive Director Hanif Mohebi, 858.278.4547,; CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra, 916.441.6269,

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