In a shocking new ruling, New Mexico’s top court has decided to let illegal immigrants practice law in the state. Monday’s decision means people who’re breaking the law just by being in the US could have the power to influence the justice system. Predictably, conservatives are furious.
On August 22, the New Mexico Supreme Court revised the state’s rules on eligibility for a law license. Most of the requirements haven’t changed — applicants must be at least 18, have a relevant law degree, and so on — but there’s one major change: The addition of the words “License to practice law shall not be denied based solely on the applicant’s citizenship or immigration status.”
What this means is that, as long as illegal immigrants have a law degree, they can apply to the New Mexico bar and have just as much chance of passing as any other candidate. This move will certainly widen the pool of possible candidates — but the US already has more lawyers per citizen than any other country in the world, by a large margin.
Is New Mexico somehow so short of attorneys that it needs to let people who entered our country illegally argue cases in court? The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) doesn’t think the change is justified. IRLI executive director Dale Wilcox told journalists the move dilutes the value of US citizenship and points out that soon “there will be virtually no advantage… to become a citizen legally.” Would you feel comfortable being represented in court by a foreign criminal?