With New Rule, DACA Recipients can be Lawyers in Pennsylvania

February 14, 2019
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HARRISBURG - A new rule issued last week by the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners ensures that participants in the federal government’s DACA program can be admitted to the commonwealth’s bar and cannot be denied a law license based on their immigration status. The rule comes more than a year after the bar admitted its first DACA recipient, Parthiv Patel, who was initially denied his license to practice law in 2016, despite graduating from law school and passing the Pennsylvania bar exam.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is the federal program started in 2012 that allows some undocumented immigrants to be granted work authorization and protection from deportation. While the Trump administration has attempted to end DACA, court decisions in response to legal challenges have led to the program remaining in place.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania represented Pathel in his appeal of the denial. The following can be attributed to Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania and a member of his legal team:

“We applaud the Board of Law Examiners for recognizing that a person’s participation in DACA does not determine their fitness to become a lawyer. Parthiv Patel broke a barrier in Pennsylvania. And by doing that, other young people who are in similar circumstances can achieve their dreams.

“We are grateful that the board has cleared this unnecessary hurdle from the path of future lawyers. Dreamers like Parthiv should be celebrated, not deported.”

More information about Patel’s case, including letters of support he received from law schools from around the country, is available at aclupa.org/Patel.

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