Should Illegal Immigrants be Allowed to Practice Law?

Should Illegal Immigrants be Allowed to Practice Law?

I think so, assuming they go to law school, pass the bar and are found to be morally fit to practice law – the same hoops everyone else has to jump through. Why not?

Right now, courts in Florida and California are considering the cases of illegal immigrants who have applied for law licenses. It’s up to the supreme courts of individual states to decide whom to admit. It seems to be up for discussion, and I’ll be interested to see what happens.

The debate isn’t new. Politicians and interest groups have long been debating whether undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents should be given a pass. It was not their choice to come. They have grown up in this country, and for many, it’s the only home they know.  And in one of these cases we are talking about a law student who has been in the U.S. since he was five months old.

Putting the larger immigration debate aside, admitting someone to the bar and giving them a license to practice law should be based on relevant qualifications like passing law school, passing the bar and passing the moral character portion of the application. (If you are familiar with my feelings on the bar exam, and even law school, you’ll know that I don’t find these to be perfect indicators of legal success, but I’d argue they are better than approving or denying an application based on where you were born.)

I suppose the entire issue is somewhat moot – in terms of getting a job – because the law prohibits undocumented immigrants from working for pay. But as one article suggests, you could still practice pro bono. Not realistic perhaps, but it’s possible. And what you’re going to do with your law license isn’t really the issue here – it’s whether you should be given the opportunity.

My opinion is based partly on the fact that these immigrants didn’t decide to come here illegally; they were brought here as children. It’s also based on the fact that denying a law license based on immigration status doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, there already are too many attorneys in this country, but I can’t say they’re all great. I’d hate to see qualified, passionate, bright law grads denied on a technicality.

My gut tells me that these applications in Florida and California ultimately will be denied. I hope I’m wrong. I just can’t see the harm in allowing ambitious young people pursue the practice of law, especially those who meet the criteria in every other way. If you have a good argument otherwise, I’d love to hear it. 

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    All illegals are criminals,and as such,of poor ethics,as well as morality.The claim that they did not choose to break the law is an invalid statement,because all Illegals came here,and have chosen to remain here,breaking even more laws on a daily basis.The SIMPSON/MAZZOLI ACT,as well as other laws,make it illegal for illegals to work here,creating more law breaking if they are allowed to practice law,because it would be illegal for anyone to work for free unless it is to for restitution as the law allows for.Michael has proven he lacks the ability to understand these facts,as well as all of the rest I did not add.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    Well, I'd counter that if a 5 month old or even five year old goes in to a store and steals something, they can not be charged with a crime because of their age. So to say they chose to break the law would be false. And while you see every illegal alien the same, I don't. It's inhumane to try to deport someone who was brought here illegally as a child and has not only known this country, but has contributed to it. Our laws allow them to join the military. Why can't they have other work?

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    Read the laws,again,or have your parents read them to you.All Illegals are criminals,and that is a fact,not inhumane.Also,a kid can not go to law school,understand? so your argument is invalid,and if a person can pass law school,they should understand they are breaking he law by being here,working here,etc.since they are doing all of the law breaking,they are not ethicly or morally correct,but thanks for proving you fail to understand the facts.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    Your personal attack is adorable.

    So if you discovered today that your parents took you here illegally from Iran, you'd be willing to hop on a plane and go to your homeland? I'm sure you would.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    If I was breaking the law,I would quit breaking the law,understand? and you consider law breaking humane,calling those who want laws to be followed inhumane,so deal with the personal atacks you rerceive after you make them.The actions of a child are one thing,but not forgiven,and need to be amended,so they are law abiding later,understand? allowing for law breaking allows the laws to be habitually broken,not followed,but you again fail to understand that fact.I served in the military,and see no place for illegals in it,due to their lack of ethics,morality,and no thourough back ground check can be done on them,so the military excuse falls flat.As for my parents,they were here legally,as were my grandparents,making that part of your argument invalid as well.All illegals are free to leave,and encouraged to,unless they are currently incarcerated,a fact yo ualso fail to understand.As for inhumane,it is inhumane to allow the USA to be invaded by illegals(criminals) that come here in the Millions to steal from,kill,molest,etc,the citizens of the USA.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    I thank you for taking time from the birther movement to provide such insight to me.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    I doubt Law school is free,so the Illegal has already broken the SIMPSON/MAZZOLI act to earn a living while going to school,in addition to being in the USA,just so you know.

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    Birther movement huh? you have issues with facts,so you compare the actions of a unattended child who commits a petty theft to that of an illegal who has habitually broken the laws of the USA who wants to break more laws,habitually.I pity people like you who received a poor education.Learn about the laws,and why they should be followed,and not broken.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    I did only go to Chicago-Kent, so you might be right on the education part.

    When should an illegal brought here as a toddler leave? They can't work according to you, so they can't buy a plane ticket. Should the light just go off in their head at 18 that they are a hardened criminal because their parents took them here? Let's be real. There is no difference between them and any other "real" American. You calling them habitual law breakers as an adult is a petty, simplistic argument. If you can't distinguish between the actions of a grown person that chooses to come to the US illegally and work and a baby who was brought here, educated here, raised here, pays taxes here and contributing in the good ol U S of A their whole life then it is you that needs pity.

  • In reply to Michael Helfand:

    Michael, so are you saying that if a parent gets their child to the U.S. legally or illegally, that child should be given the same rights as any other "real" American child? At what age does it no longer apply? You talk of babies, 0-1 year, and toddlers, 1-3 years.

  • In reply to Trish:

    Sure. If they are positive members of society then why not? You deport someone who has grown up here their entire life and send them to a country where they don't know anyone, speak the language, etc. then it's a death sentence for many. We need to figure some path to legal residency because to expect to deport tens of millions is unrealistic. Require a large fine, military service, if you are convicted of a felony you do get deported, I don't know what the right answer is. But I do know that you have to look at the severity of one's actions and offenses and their individual situations. It's similar to why we give court supervision to someone who goes 15 over the speed limit and we put in jail those that commit a DUI.

    Now I'm sure you'll disagree, but maybe you'll like my future blog posts on why no one except cops should be able to possess a gun. :)

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    the military is no place for criminals,first off,and law breaking,habitually,should never be called good,but you fail to understand those facts.All Illegals are criminals,but you continue to prove you fail to understand those facts,or the 2nd Amendment that gives the People the RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS,proving you fail to understand the US CONSTITUTION,THE BILL OF RIGHTS,AND THE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. You keep displaying your disdain for the USA, its laws,as well as the US Constitution.

  • In reply to Michael Helfand:

    You did not answer my question, at what age does it no longer apply? Your last paragraph would indicate that you assume anyone who may disagree with you on illegal immigration is a card carrying NRA member. No. I would like to see guns disappear from our city streets. I also believe that gays should be allowed to marry.

  • In reply to Trish:

    Trish: Gun comment was a joke b/c that's also something people don't agree on and sets off emotions. I don't know the right age, but it's not realistic to treat a toddler the same as an adult. If it was up to me it would probably be age 18 (for those already here), but I can certainly see an argument for a younger age.

    David: You act like agreeing with you is the only way to be someone that loves America and that TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE A POINT. All you are missing is a bunch of exclamation points and a quote from Rush Limbaugh.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    You are not intelligent enough to understand that Illegals are not law abiding members of society,that they are not citizens,but illegal invaders,so I try to make it easier for your simple mind to understand it.Illegal activity is always wrong,and Illegals have to obey the law,and leave,or be executed for the crimes they commit,as is already done,just not enough.You are a pathetic lawyer,and I do feel sorry for any client of yours.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    Me too. I'm the worst.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    By ROBERT PEAR

    Published: June 12, 2007

    WASHINGTON, June 11 — When President Bush goes to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to push for revival of a comprehensive immigration bill, he will have to wrestle with the ghost of a 1986 law that promised to solve the problem of illegal immigration.

    That law prohibited the hiring of illegal immigrants, provided new resources for enforcement along the Mexican border and offered legal status, or amnesty, to several million illegal immigrants. In the current debate, which stalled last week when the latest legislative proposal failed to clear a procedural hurdle, senators of both parties cite the 1986 law as an example of what not to do.

    Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said he regretted voting for the 1986 measure.

    “I thought then that taking care of three million people illegally in the country would solve the problem once and for all,” Mr. Grassley said. “I found out, however, if you reward illegality, you get more of it. Today, as everybody has generally agreed, we have 12 million people here illegally.”

    The 1986 law was a product of more than five years’ work by Senator Alan K. Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, and Representative Romano L. Mazzoli, Democrat of Kentucky. Both left Congress more than a decade ago.

    Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said: “I was here in Congress in 1986. I heard all the promises of the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. None of them were true, and three million people got amnesty. There was no border security to speak of, no employer sanctions to speak of, and there was no enforcement.”

    Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said: “The American people were sold a bill of goods. It didn’t work. We got an amnesty, and we got no enforcement. That is why people are so distrustful now.”
    You are a pathetic Lawyer for wanting Illegal activity to continue,and for being against Laws being enforced.

  • In reply to Michael Helfand:

    Micheal, what sets off emotions for me is when people assume to know another's heart and mind after reading a 50 word comment. I don't see the joke. Believe it or not, not everyone is just a liberal or a conservative. Some of us view and measure each issue separately. Some of us have compassion for most of the undocumented but would still not vote for another amnesty. Without the Federal governments commitment and ability to upholding future immigration laws, amnesty fixes little that is wrong with illegal immigration. It just start the process over again.

  • In reply to Trish:

    "Without the Federal governments commitment and ability to upholding future immigration laws, amnesty fixes little that is wrong with illegal immigration. It just start the process over again."

    On this we agree.

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    In reply to Trish:

    Michael wants amnesty,which is why he is not intelligent enough to understand that allowing Illegals to remain and work here is wrong,yet he posts he is for amnesty,when it has been proven to be wrong.

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    Illegals here are breaking the law,understand?and you passed the bar with that education? your state bar is pathetic,like your education,and your lack of ethics,etc.The USA deports,free of charge for the Illegals,totheir home Nation,so they get it for free,a fact you now know,since I have explained it to you.It is Illegal for Illegals to work here,so read the SIMPSON/MAZZOLI ACT,as well as the rest of the Immigration laws,and the laws on employing people,to see where illegals break those laws.You claim to be an attorney,so read them.Illegals paying taxes from breaking the law is not a reason to call them good,law abiding people,because they are breaking the laws by working,so,use your law degree to try to understand the facts.They are not Americans,they are not law abiding,but they are habitual criminals,so read the laws,and quit proving you received a poor education.You also compared the actions of a young child to that of a law school grad,which was just another invalid argument on your part,proving you have no legal,valid arguments to make.The laws are as they were made by congress,and signed into effect by the President,and are not be broken by criminals.

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    "And in one of these cases we are talking about a law student who has been in the U.S. since he was five months old."

    It is time to deport that law student and his PARENTS since they are the ones who caused this problem. It is their responsibility to see that he gets acclimated to his country of origin. We have plenty of citizen and legal resident parents in this country who place their children in bad and dangerous situations. We definitely should not exacerbate the problem by allowing even more irresponsible parents to stay in this country.

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    I agree,100% Allen,but people like Michael and the pro amnesty crowd refuse to learn from history.Amnesty is wrong,it failed,and created the problems we have today.

  • Michael-great stuff as always. This piece, as all your work, reflects your sensitivity to nuance, your analytical, thoughtful approach to life, to law, to complicated issues.

    David-to say this is atypical for my personality..for my approach to dissent or argument....but you sir...are an asshole. "Understand"?

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    In reply to koolking83:

    Poor troubled kid,you are not able to understand the topic,the laws,and you have proven your illiteracy.If you paid for your inadequate education like your boyfriend Michael,then get a refund.Both of you are unable to understand that all illegals are criminals,and that the 1986 amnesty was wrong.

  • To expound a tad David- I find your abrasive, condescending approach, exponentially more offensive than an illegal “repeatedly breaking the law” (by being in the Country). Grow up.

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    In reply to koolking83:

    You are not inteligent,but you fit Einsteins definition of insanity with your wanting to repeat amnesty,like Michael.Einstein said "repeating the same thing,and expecting a diferent result is insanity".Now,mature,and get a better education.

  • In reply to koolking83:

    Don't take offense. David has a viewpoint that illegal aliens should be executed if they won't leave which is on level with Nazi Germany. Not a person I'd be looking for approval from.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    Wrong again Michael.i said all illegals need to be deported,or executed for the crimes they have commited here.You,of course,fail to understand that that is ongoing,but I have never said to execute them for only being here,and not leaving.Thank you for proving your ignorance,yet again.The USA is not Nazi Germany,by the way,and the USA has no concentration camps killing off the Illegals,but we do have,as a Nation,jails,prisons,and detention centers to hold the criminals(illegals) in,until they are deported,or executed if they are given that sentence.Those are the facts,but,your limited ability to understand facts is standing in your way to comprehend the facts.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    I don't understand. When do we get to kill 'em?

    On a serious note to anyone else reading other than my pal David, this does show we likely need a compromise situation where no one is happy with the result and it's shameful that politicians on both sides of the aisle are really too timid to meaningfully address this issue.

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    (MSNBC) A Mexican national was executed Thursday for the rape-slaying of a teenager after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a White House-supported appeal to spare him in a death penalty case where Texas justice triumphed over international treaty concerns.

    Humberto Leal, 38, received lethal injection for the 1994 murder of Adria Sauceda. She was fatally bludgeoned with a piece of asphalt.

    Leal was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. EDT.

    Leal moved with his family from Monterrey, Mexico, to the U.S. as a toddler. Police never told Leal following his arrest that he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under an international treaty and his case had prompted appeals on what it could mean for other foreigners arrested in the U.S. and for Americans detained in other countries. His appeals lawyers said such assistance would have helped his defense.

    Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 to reject a stay.

    "We are doubtful that it is ever appropriate to stay a lower court judgment in light of unenacted legislation. Our task is to rule on what the law is, not what it might eventually be," the high court said in an unsigned opinion.

    The argument was not new. Texas, the most active death penalty state, has executed other condemned foreign nationals who raised similar challenges, most recently in 2008.

    Leal's appeals, however, focused on legislation introduced last month in the U.S. Senate by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. Leahy's measure would bring the U.S. into compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provision regarding the arrests of foreign nationals and ensure court reviews for condemned foreigners to determine if the lack of consular help made a significant difference in the outcome of their cases.

    President Barack Obama's administration took the unusual step of intervening in a state murder case when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. last week joined Leal's appeal in asking the high court halt the execution and give Congress at least six months to consider Leahy's bill.

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP
    Humberto Leal was executed for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda.

    "The legislation would give Mr. Leal an opportunity to demonstrate that with consular assistance, he likely would not have been convicted, let alone sentenced to death," Sandra Babcock, a Northwestern University law professor and one of Leal's lawyers, said.

    Leal's attorneys had the support of the Mexican government and other diplomats who believed the execution should be delayed so his case could be thoroughly reviewed. Some also warned Leal's execution would violate the treaty provision and could endanger Americans abroad.

    Measures similar to Leahy's have failed at least twice in recent congressional sessions. The Texas Attorney General's office, opposing the appeals, pointed to those failures in its Supreme Court arguments, saying history had validated that "legislative relief was not likely to be forthcoming."

    Stephen Hoffman, an assistant attorney general, said the request for a reprieve to extend through the end of the current congressional term next January was audacious and that evidence pointing to Leal's guilt was strong.

    "At this point, it is clear that Leal is attempting to avoid execution by overwhelming the state and the courts with as many meritless lawsuits and motions as humanly possible," Hoffman said., said. "Simply put, a bill is not federal law.... And because most bills introduced never become law, it is altogether unsurprising that bills are not afforded legal effect."

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gtAV5GNgrY

    Another Illegal Michael wants to keep,let live free in the USA.

  • In reply to David Burleson:

    Don't forget throw him a parade and give him someone's job because that is exactly what I said because just like you, I assume that every illegal alien is a killer or rapist and couldn't be good for this country because they weren't given the magic potion that makes you incredible when you are born here instead of showing up a few months after you were born.

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2011/08/25/illegal_immigrant_charged_with_killing_23-year-old_while_driving_drunk
    You would give the raper/killer of the newborn a parade and a job Michael,and all like him,but not me.Thanks for proving your view on American laws,Americans,and how you are pro illegal.Adults are responsible for their actions,as well as all over 16 if they are commiting felonies,and tried as adults for their actions.Law school grads should be aware of those facts,but you keep proving you do not have that ability.

  • It seems to me there's a fundamental and enormously ironic problem with an illegal immigrant being allowed to practice law. To advocate for someone to be allowed to argue and in some cases interpret the law when they have broken the law themselves and never bothered to rectify their own situation seems a dangerous road to go down. Sure, a baby or a toddler brought into this country illegally had no choice in the matter. But if that child grows up to be intelligent and hard-working enough to pass the bar, why can we not expect that person to do what it takes to become a legal citizen first?

  • In reply to TedTedTed:

    Intelligent and well thought comment Ted. Thanks. The issue in my opinion is that the only way to make that happen is to leave the country and petition from their home country which I again don't think is realistic. All combined is why I think there has to be some solution and we have to be committed to enforcing it instead of pretending that it would be easy to enforce the existing law. Too many are against it. That doesn't have to mean citizenship or voting rights or anything else. But if someone is crime free, paying taxes and living like any other American, my opinion is that a course to residency should be available. While I wouldn't necessarily oppose requiring someone who came as an adult (and has been here for let's say 30 years) being allowed to stay, I can certainly understand how they would be viewed and treated differently than someone brought here as a child.

    It's not all black and white. What if the law student now has a wife and some kids? He can't get legal residency without leaving. If he's the only means of support should we kick him out and put the mom/kids on welfare or should we be able to look at that situation and say that we are all best served if he's here?

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    In reply to Michael Helfand:

    Michael says, "It's not all black and white. What if the law student now has a wife and some kids? He can't get legal residency without leaving. If he's the only means of support should we kick him out and put the mom/kids on welfare or should we be able to look at that situation and say that we are all best served if he's here?"

    If he took on the responsibility of creating a family, he needs to live up to his responsibilities and take care of them. As I said earlier, he and his parents who created this problem should be deported. If he created a family, he should take HIS family with him and teach them to be responsible, law abiding adults no matter what country in which they live.

  • In reply to Allen Bunch:

    So the home country should take three illegal immigrants so this guy can go back there?

    I don't get you guys. Next thing I know, you'll tell me you don't like football, er, soccer.

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    In reply to TedTedTed:

    Michael is unable to comprehend that Ted.

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    Miami Herald

    By David Ovalle

    When burglar Kesler Dufrene became a twice-convicted felon in 2006, a Bradenton judge shipped him to prison for five years. And because of his convictions, an immigration judge ordered Dufrene deported to his native Haiti.

    That never happened.

    Kesler Dufrene

    Instead, when Dufrene’s state prison term was up, Miami immigration authorities in October 2010 released him from custody. Two months later, North Miami police say, he slaughtered three people, including a 15-year-old girl in a murder case that remains as baffling today as it did the afternoon the bodies were discovered.

    DNA on a rifle found inside the house and cellphone tracking technology later linked Dufrene to the Jan. 2, 2011, slayings.

    But North Miami detectives never got to interrogate him. Just 18 days after the murders, Dufrene shot and killed himself when he was cornered by Manatee County sheriff’s deputies in Bradenton after an unrelated break-in and shooting there.

    The episode is a black eye for U.S. authorities, who by law could not detain Dufrene indefinitely after the Obama administration ordered a temporary halt of deportations to the island nation. The deportations were halted because of the carnage wrought by Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake.

    “Because of the moratorium on removals to Haiti in effect when Dufrene came into ICE custody, his removal to Haiti was not likely in the reasonably foreseeable future,” an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said in a statement Friday.

    Illegals make the choice to obey or break the laws,and I have no pity for them.You fail to understand why laws are made,and have to be obeyed Michael,and for an attorney,that is beyond pathetic.

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    Michael,

    Stop arguing with a dining room table. You'll never win.

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    He needs to learn about laws,facts,and comprehension above his limited ability.All Illegals are criminals,but he fails to understand that,and wants Illegals that kill to be given a job and a parade.Now you say he is arguing with furniture.

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    I stated the facts,and proof of the illegals lack of ethics,morals,as well as a few of the crimes they have commited,that Michael is all for,as telling by his replies for them to be given parades and jobs.Maybe another can try to educate him someday,but doubtful.Bye.

  • I would put the argument in a slightly different form. Thus

    No lawyer who accepts the adversary system imposed by Britain on its colonies is morally fit to practise law.

    Therefore, lack of moral fitness cannot be a fatal bar to practising the common law.

  • I don't think you can expect people to divorce your points from the wider point about illegal status, even though I agree with you that someone who was brought here as a 5 month old is hardly the same kind of criminal as someone who steals or assaults another as an adult.
    Unfortunately, as we can see here, it is becoming more and more difficult to have a decent debate about the country's problems as there are too many people who default to name calling and general ugliness.
    Too bad.

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