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Immigration Activist Cesar Vargas Continues Fight Over Law License

First Posted: Jun 25, 2015 03:31 PM EDT
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Immigration activist Cesar Vargas continues his fight to obtain a license to practice law in his home state of New York. Despite surpassing one legal hurdle, another one has been thrown on his path, a one-year probation. Yet, the DREAMer and activist will not capitulate.

"It was like a roller coaster ride, with excitement hearing the news then feeling devasted, knowing that I would have to wait another year," Vargas told Latin Post in an email about his recent experience.

Vargas, co-director of the DREAM Action Coalition, won a case on June 3 allowing him to practice law in the state of New York despite coming to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant. The activist graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2011 and passed the New York State bar exam, but his status as a DREAMer prevented him from receiving his license.

DREAMers are undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who are now protected by the DREAM Act. Vargas arrived in the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 5.

However, in spite of winning in a New York court, Vargas' license is still being held up because of his activism. Earlier this year, Vargas and other activists protested Rep. Steve King's Iowa Freedom Summit, interrupting a speech by Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Local police arrested Vargas for trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, and he was found guilty in early June. Sentenced to one year probation, Vargas cannot receive his license under New York law. Vargas' attorney filed for a judge to end his probation early, arguing he posed no risks and had done what was ordered.

However, the Des Moines County Prosecutor argued for rehabilitation, preventing him from ending the probation. Nonetheless, the activist remains undeterred by what has happened and does not regret his actions.

"I take responsibility for my actions and respect the decision of the jury; however, I went to Iowa to confront politicians and ask them questions about issues that matter to my family and the country," Vargas told Latin Post via email.

"For me, this is about my family, my 70-year-old mother who is still undocumented," he explained. "This is not about politics and I don't regret challenging politicians so they are reminded that they need to respect the American people."

Vargas criticized the County Prosecutor, calling his actions an "arbitrary punitive approach."

"He is arguing that I am a danger to society and need rehabilitation," Vargas said. "The murderer behind the shootings in Charleston is a danger to society, not a DREAMer seeking to practice law to serve his community."

Vargas aims to make this his goal and show the prosecutors in Des Moines he poses no threat.

"I learned that you need a license to practice law, to represent clients but you don't need a license to fight for your family and community," Vargas commented.

To continue his path towards becoming a lawyer and helping his community, DREAM Action Coalition will send out a petition asking Iowans and others around the country to show they stand with DREAMers. They hope it will convince the County Prosecutor.

Vargas also informed Latin Post that New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, and Staten Island Pastor Terry Troia will pen a letter attesting to his character and calling for his probation's end.

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