In April, we brought you the story of a young illegal immigrant who was trying to pass the Bar exam and earn a license to practice law in the U.S.
Two conflicting employment immigration laws are muddling his situation and that of a California man in a similar predicament. For the California man, he passed the bar exam last year and was given a license — that is, until his illegal status was brought up. Both he and the young illegal immigrant from Florida are contesting their situations, with the Supreme Courts in both states considering rulings.
So what gives? First, federal employment immigration law says that employers cannot knowingly hire someone who does not have U.S. citizenship. This law applies further, preventing illegal immigrants from receiving federal funding (such as grants and loans) or professional licenses (such as a law license).
However, there is no federal requirement for those hiring independent contractors to check the contractor’s immigration status.
Where does that leave the two prospective lawyers? Legal analysts are not very optimistic that the rulings will go in favor of the plaintiffs, due to the clear wording of the federal law.
But this speaks to the main issue that proposals such as the DREAM Act and the recent H-1B visa reform bill are trying to address: how do we treat illegal immigrants who graduate from U.S. institutions? And what about immigrants who were brought here at a young age, with no real say regarding their situation? There may come a day when the issue is finally resolved; but in the meantime, hardworking illegal immigrants are placed in limbo with little chance to remedy their situation.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “California, Florida Consider Law Licenses for Illegal Immigrants,” Joe Palazzolo, June 11, 2012