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After five years of waiting, 36-year-old California resident Sergio Garcia received permission to obtain his license for practicing law, even after the California government discovered he was an illegal immigrant.
According to NBC News, Garcia had passed his bar examination in 2009 and had received approval from the State Bar of California in May 2012, yet the Justice Department ruled him out on the grounds of his immigration status.
But Thursday, Garcia received final approval from the California Supreme Court.
“I’m speechless, tired, relieved,” said Garcia. “I’m glad California is moving forward, and I think we’re setting a good example for the rest of the country.”
Garcia had moved to California at age 17 with his father to pick almonds, says The Associated Press. He began his neutralization in that year, yet because of the number of applications, Garcia is not scheduled to receive his green card until 2019.
Garcia's case has inspired two other U.S. residents who are awaiting similar permission to practice law: Jose Godinez-Samperio of Florida and Cesar Vargas of New York.
“It gives me a lot of hope,” said Godinez-Samperio. “Now we will tell the court here in Florida what happened in California, and I hope the court will make a similar decision in my case.
“Today really adds momentum to what the courts should do soon,” Vargas said. “But until we actually see Sergio and all the other members of the DREAM Bar Association actually be sworn in at their ceremony, that’s when we’ll truly be excited.”