Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Asylum & Immigration

Case: In re Admission of Sergio Garcia

STATUS: Victory, California

Sergio Garcia’s parents brought him from Mexico to the United States when was an infant. Sergio’s father applied for an immigrant visa on Sergio’s behalf. Although the application was approved in 1995, Sergio has not been able to apply to adjust his immigration status since because the United State government has yet to assign him a visa number nearly twenty years later. While waiting for his immigration paperwork to be completed, Sergio went on with his life and decided to attend law school, fulfilling a childhood dream. Sergio completed law school and passed the California Bar Exam, but was denied admission to the bar due to his immigration status. He appealed that decision to the California Supreme Court.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with Lambda Legal, filed an amicus brief on behalf of Sergio Garcia. Like undocumented immigrants, people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community have faced discriminatory laws and rules that categorically barred them from fulfilling their professional and personal aspirations. Drawing those analogies for the Court, the amicus brief demonstrated the inaccuracies of those claims as they applied to both groups of people. Highlighting the irrationality of those belief and misconceptions, the brief argues that the California Supreme Court should grant Sergio Garcia admission to the bar because his undocumented status is irrelevant to his ability and fitness to practice law.

On January 2, 2014, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion clearing the way for Sergio Garcia to become a licensed attorney in California. The Court found that a new California law, enacted shortly after oral argument in the case, allows immigrants like Sergio to obtain professional licenses and that he is otherwise fully qualified to be an attorney. NCLR applauds this decision and congratulates Sergio on his important victory.

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