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State top court may deny law license to immigrant without green card

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court appeared inclined Wednesday to bar immigrants without green cards from obtaining law licenses.

During a hearing, the state high court indicated it was bound by federal law to deny undocumented immigrants the right to practice law.

Not one justice suggested the law favored Sergio C. Garcia, 36, a Mexican immigrant who graduated from a California law school and passed the bar exam but has been waiting nearly 18 years for a green card.

Justice Marvin R. Baxter said a federal law that prohibits undocumented immigrants from obtaining professional licenses nevertheless permitted state legislatures to pass laws making exceptions.

“It seems to be a classic case where the political process could achieve a lot more than asking this court to legislate,” Baxter said.

The court's decision is expected within 90 days.

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