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Immigration Reform News: NY DREAMer Cesar Vargas Denied Law License Due to One-Year Probation for Misdemeanor in Iowa

First Posted: Jun 19, 2015 04:14 PM EDT
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Prominent immigration activist Cesar Adrian Vargas has experienced another setback in obtaining a license to practice law in New York.

After a year-long battle, a New York court approved his application to practice law on June 3, overturning a 2013 decision by a committee that rejected his application due to his immigration status as an undocumented worker.

Vargas, who came to the U.S. with his mother when he was 5 years old, was set to become the first undocumented immigrant to practice law in the state. However, a recent misdemeanor conviction now stands in the way.

Back in January, the 31-year-old activist was arrested at Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit after he questioned potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates about their stance on immigration. Vargas disrupted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's speech and asked him if he would support deporting his 70-year-old undocumented mother. The Mexican native was then arrested for trespassing on private property, the Des Moines Register reported.

"I don't regret going to exercise, as the American that I feel I am, to ask my potential president a question that matters to my family," he said.

Earlier this month, a Polk County jury convicted the national immigration advocate for trespassing. Instead of paying a $100 fine, Vargas opted for deferred judgment and a probation period that would erase the conviction from his record after one year. However, his probation sentence has temporarily derailed his bid to become a practicing lawyer since New York policy does not issue law licenses to someone if they're on probation.

Vargas' attorney filed a motion last week asking a judge to end the probation so Vargas' application to practice law can be screened by a New York committee, reported the AP. His lawyer argued that Vargas is considered a low risk to reoffend, and he completed the only requirements of his probation.

That request, however, has been denied by the DesMoines County Prosecutor in Iowa who argued that Vargas has not been "rehabilitated" and is a danger to society.

"I am not a violent bank robber. I simply did what every American has done: question politicians on pressing issues and fighting for my family," said Vargas in response to the ruling, according to a press release.

"When they say that I haven't been rehabilitated, I guess kind of implying that I'm a danger to society, for me it's unfortunate," Vargas added.

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