BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  AB 1024
          Author:   Gonzalez (D), et al.
          Amended:  9/6/13 in Senate
          Vote:     21

           
          PRIOR VOTES NOT RELEVANT

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  5-1, 9/11/13
          AYES:  Evans, Corbett, Leno, Monning, Vidak
          NOES:  Anderson
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Jackson
           
          SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8


           SUBJECT  :    Attorneys:  admission to practice

           SOURCE  :     Author


           DIGEST :    This bill allows applicants, who are not lawfully  
          present in the United States, to be admitted as an attorney at  
          law.

           Senate Floor Amendments  of 9/6/13 delete contents of the bill  
          related to cooperative housing and instead provide that upon  
          certification by the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE), if an  
          applicant who is not lawfully present in the U.S. has fulfilled  
          the requirements for admission to practice law, the Supreme  
          Court may admit that applicant as an attorney at law, as  
          specified.

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           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing federal law:

           1. Prohibits, under the Personal Responsibility and Work  
             Opportunity Reconciliation Act, certain categories of  
             individuals not lawfully present in the U.S. from receiving  
             specified public benefits, including "any grant, contract,  
             loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by  
             an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated  
             funds of a State or local government."  

           2. Provides that a state may render "an alien who is not  
             lawfully present in the United States . . . eligible for any  
             State or local public benefit for which such alien would  
             otherwise be ineligible . . . through the enactment of a  
             State law after the date of the enactment of this Act which  
             affirmatively provides for such eligibility."  (8 United  
             States Code (U.S.C.) Section 1621(d))

          Existing state law:

           1. Establishes, under the State Bar Act, qualifications for  
             individuals who seek to be certified to the Supreme Court for  
             admission and a license to practice law.  Among other things,  
             applicants to the State Bar must:  (a) be at least 18 years  
             old; (b) be of good moral character; (c) have received a  
             juris doctor degree or otherwise studied law diligently and  
             in good faith, as specified; (d) have passed a prescribed  
             examination in professional responsibility or legal ethics;  
             and (e) have passed the general bar examination before they  
             can be certified for admission.  

           2. States that upon certification by the examining committee  
             that an applicant has fulfilled the requirements for  
             admission to practice law, the Supreme Court may admit such  
             applicant as an attorney at law in all the courts of this  
             state and may direct an order to be entered upon its records  
             to that effect.  

           3. States that every person on his admission shall take an oath  
             to support the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the  
             State of California, and faithfully to discharge the duties  
             of any attorney at law to the best of his knowledge and  

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             ability.  

          This bill provides that, upon certification by the CBE, if an  
          applicant who is not lawfully present in the U.S. has fulfilled  
          the requirements for the admission to practice law, the Supreme  
          Court may admit that applicant as an attorney at law, as  
          specified.

           Background
           
          In 1996, Congress enacted the Personal Responsibility and Work  
          Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), Pub. L. No. 104-193,  
          110 Stat. 2105 (Aug. 22, 1996).  PRWORA, among other things,  
          prohibits certain categories of individuals not lawfully present  
          in the U.S. from receiving certain public benefits, including  
          "any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial  
          license provided by an agency of a State or local government or  
          by appropriated funds of a State or local government."  (8  
          U.S.C. Section 1621(c).)  PRWORA provides that a state may  
          render "an alien who is not lawfully present in the United  
          States . . . eligible for any State or local public benefit for  
          which such alien would otherwise be ineligible . . . through the  
          enactment of a State law after the date of the enactment of this  
          Act which affirmatively provides for such eligibility."  (8  
          U.S.C. Section 1621(d).)  Consistent with that provision, this  
          bill seeks to expressly extend eligibility to obtain a license  
          to practice law to individuals who are not lawfully present in  
          the U.S.

          The Supreme Court is currently considering Sergio Garcia for  
          admission to practice law in the State of California.  (See In  
          re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission, S202512, May 15, 2012.)  Mr.  
          Garcia has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for approximately  
          20 years, and is currently petitioning the federal government  
          for an immigrant visa.  During his time in the U.S., Mr. Garcia  
          has graduated from law school, passed the California Bar Exam,  
          and has been found by the CBE to have met all the necessary  
          requirements for admission to practice law in the State of  
          California.  However, given his immigration status, it is an  
          open question whether the Supreme Court can admit Mr. Garcia to  
          practice law.  To clarify the issue, this bill expressly  
          provides that the Supreme Court may admit an applicant who is  
          not lawfully present in the U.S. as an attorney at law in all  
          the courts of this state upon certification by the State Bar  

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          examining committee that the applicant has fulfilled the  
          requirements for admission to practice law.

           Prior legislation  .  AB 844 (Lara, Chapter 619, Statutes of 2011)  
          provided that any student, including a person without lawful  
          immigration status or a person who is exempt from nonresident  
          tuition, may serve in any capacity in student government at the  
          California State University or the California Community Colleges  
          and receive any grant, scholarship, fee waiver, or reimbursement  
          for expenses that is connected with that service to the full  
          extent consistent with federal law.  The bill also eliminated  
          the requirement that a nonvoting student member of a community  
          college district governing board be a resident of California.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  9/10/13)

          Attorney General's Office
          American Civil Liberties Union of California
          American Friends Service Committee
          California Faculty Association
          California Immigrant Policy Center
          Catholic Charities CYO
          Central American Resource Center
          Chinese for Affirmative Action
          Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
          Consumer Attorneys of California
          Dolores Street Community Services
          Educators for Fair Consideration
          National Center for Lesbian Rights
          Pangea Legal Services
          Pomona College
          United We Dream Network

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author writes:

            There are currently bright, young individuals, who have worked  
            hard to progress in their education and have met the rigorous  
            requirements for obtaining a law degree and a legal license,  
            including passing the California Bar Exam, but due to their  
            immigration status are unable to fulfill their dream of  
            becoming a licensed attorney.  Sergio Garcia is one of those  

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            Dreamers who are currently unable to obtain a law license.   
            Having passed the State Bar examination and fulfilled all  
            other requirements, Mr. Garcia was routinely sworn into the  
            legal profession in 2011.  Two weeks later his license was  
            rescinded on the basis that the Personal Responsibility and  
            Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act passed by Congress in 1996  
            prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving professional  
            licenses with the use of public funds, unless state law  
            explicitly overrides it.

            AB 1024 is a direct response to an admission application  
            currently pending at the California State Supreme Court.  AB  
            1024 would make explicit the intent of this legislature that  
            all individuals who meet the state law qualifications for the  
            practice of law in California be affirmatively eligible to  
            apply for and obtain a law license regardless of their  
            citizenship or immigration status.  Specifically, AB 1024  
            permits the State Supreme Court to admit as an attorney any  
            applicant who is certified by the examining committee as  
            having fulfilled the requirements for admission to practice  
            law, notwithstanding their undocumented status.  This  
            provision would therefore satisfy the requirements of 8 U.S.C.  
             1621(a), to the extent that 8 U.S.C.  1621(a) is  
            applicable. 
             
            The bill does not create any authorization for employment in  
            the United States nor does it modify or displace any  
            requirement for admission to practice law.


          AL:k  9/11/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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