Court Allows Undocumented Immigrant to Join Bar Legal battle took longer than law school By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jan 2, 2014 1:57 PM CST 116 comments Comments Sergio Garcia speaks at The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los (CHIRLA) news conference in Los Angeles, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) (Newser) – You don't have to be an American citizen to be a lawyer in America, the California Supreme Court ruled today, in a case that NBC News believes could set a national precedent. The court ruled that Sergio Garcia (no, not that Sergio Garcia) must be admitted to the State Bar of California, having met all the qualifications for joining. The ruling relies in part on a new California law that explicitly allows undocumented immigrants to become lawyers, which was championed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the San Jose Mercury News explains. The Justice Department had filed briefs opposing Garcia's admission, but backed off that stance when California's law passed. Garcia came to the US from Mexico illegally as an infant, according to Reuters. He returned to Mexico around age 9, then returned to the US for good at age 17, along with his father, who was then a permanent resident and has since become a naturalized citizen. Garcia's own petition for citizenship has been pending since 1995; he's on track to get his green card in 2019.