The Corner

Politics & Policy

Illegal Immigrants Can Now Defend the Laws They Break

California and New York will become the first states to allow illegal immigrants to practice law and be sworn in as lawyers. In so doing, they will grant the privilege of upholding the law and defending the U.S. Constitution to people who have intentionally violated the rules, and who have no right whatsoever to be here.

One such lawyer is Lizbeth Mateo. Born in Mexico, Mateo and her family illegally crossed the border when she was 14 and have been residing in California ever since. In 2013, Mateo returned to Mexico knowing she had no legal visa to come back and, as part of what became known as the Bring Them Home Campaign, returned to the U.S. border with eight other children and demanded unauthorized reentry into the U.S. — which she was granted. Having graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law and working jobs that required the use of a stolen social security number, Mateo now spends her time as an immigration lawyer “preparing legal strategies to help undocumented immigrants stay in the country” — all while flaunting her own undocumented status.

This example illustrates the extent to which certain states both accept and encourage illegal immigration. Mateo is praised for being a “leader” and a “bold advocate” but should instead be described as what she is: a lawbreaker. Mateo has taken an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, but breaks federal law every day. Square that circle.

How radical is this development? Consider that even the Obama administration opposed the possibility of illegal immigrants practicing law. Specifically, the White House objected to Sergio C. Garcia, who attempted to get high court approval for his law license after passing the bar. In a brief from the Justice Department, the administration stated that “federal law prohibits giving a public benefit, such as a bar license, to an ‘unlawfully present alien’” since the relevant statue was “plainly designed to preclude undocumented aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses issued by states and the federal government.”

This country has undoubtedly moved left since President Obama took office, but to reach a point at which unauthorized aliens can practice and uphold the very laws they routinely break represents a profound illustration of the lack of respect we have come to exhibit for our system and the principles it ostensibly undergirds.

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