You can’t make this stuff up. The LA Times reports on a court decision that forces the state of California to grant Sergio C. Garcia a licence to practice law. Lawyers are supposed to uphold the law they practice, which is a problem for Mr. Garcia, as he is in the United States illegally. Now 36 years old, Mr. Garcia snuck into the US at the age of 17. It wasn’t his first time to cross the border illegally — his family brought him across when he was an infant, but he returned to his native Mexico at nine, spent eight years there, and then returned at 17. At that time, he broke the law again — he provided a false alien registration number to a grocery store where he worked, and lied about being a lawful permanent resident.
There is a mitigating circumstance in this case. Garcia’s father has become a US citizen (despite illegally crossing the border during the younger Garcia’s infancy) and has applied for a green card for his son. That petition was accepted years ago but is stuck in the backlog of Mexican applicants. None of that justifies crossing the border illegally, using false papers or lying, but it’s worth noting.
So the California Supreme Court has ruled that despite being in the United States illegally, and despite having committed at least a couple of minor crimes (including driving a car without a license or insurance), Garcia can practice law in California. That’s one thing. How the LA Times chooses to report all this is another.
The fourth estate’s job is supposed to be to report facts. While detailing the circumstances of Garcia’s case, the paper dances all around describing his status with regard to the very law he is being authorized to practice. He is, in the eyes of the law, an illegal alien. That’s not an insult, as it has become fashionable to state, it’s the legal description of someone who enters the country illegally, as Garcia did.
Here’s how the Times’ Maura Dolan leads off her piece about him.
SAN FRANCISCO — A Mexican immigrant without a green card on Thursday won the right to practice law in California, an unprecedented ruling that will permit others in similar circumstances to become lawyers.
The state Supreme Court agreed unanimously that Sergio C. Garcia — who passed the bar examination four years ago — should receive a law license while awaiting federal approval of his green card application. The court, which has the final word on licensing lawyers, said it was able to approve Garcia’s admission to the State Bar because the Legislature had passed a law last year that cleared the way.
“The fact that an undocumented immigrant’s presence in this country violates federal statutes is not itself a sufficient or persuasive basis for denying undocumented immigrants, as a class, admission to the State Bar,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the court.
The ruling was the first of its kind in the country. Decisions in similar cases are pending in New York and Florida, and immigrant-rights advocates predicted the California ruling would ease the way for others seeking a law career.
Read on, read the whole thing. Despite the fact that the story is about an illegal alien who has broken several laws, not just immigration law, and may not be morally fit to practice law because of his transgressions, not once does the Times describe Garcia accurately. He and similarly positioned folks are described as “immigrants who lack legal status,” “undocumented immigrants,” “immigrants without green cards,” etc.