Cesar Vargas, New York’s First Undocumented Attorney, Finally Becomes A U.S. Citizen “What A Journey!”

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Cesar Vargas, New York's First Undocumented Attorney and now U.S. Citizen.
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On February 17 Cesar Vargas, New York’s first undocumented attorney, took the naturalization oath of allegiance and finally became a United States Citizen.

 

Vargas’ citizenship marks the culmination of a remarkable, nearly three-decades-long journey from undocumented immigrant to trail-blazing attorney, U.S. Soldier and national activist for immigration reform. He was finally able to naturalize after marrying his wife and gaining permanent residency in 2016. Before he obtained his green card, the now 37-year-old Army soldier was shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012.

 

“What a journey it has been! But the fight is not over. I serve my country because I want everyone to have the same opportunity to become a citizen, to have a good job, to live without the fear of deportation Today we celebrate, but the fight continues so everyone can have a chance at the American Dream. Si se pudo!” said Vargas, the newly minted American citizen.

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Cesar Vargas is a nationally recognized leader at the forefront of the fight for immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Cesar was brought to New York from Mexico at age 5 after his father passed away. He excelled academically in both college and law school. As an undocumented law graduate from the City University of New York School of Law, he led the fight for equal opportunity and access to the practice of law. 

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Nationwide and on Capitol Hill, Cesar has been a key player in the policy battle for a better immigration policy. His advocacy and story helped in the national efforts to convince President Obama to take executive action to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a much needed program in light of congressional inaction on immigration reform. Mr. Vargas has also educated immigrants across the country on their rights, spoken on behalf of his community at congressional hearings, volunteered at clinics to help immigrants know their rights, counsels military families dealing with immigration issues, and provides pro-bono representation to children facing deportation in immigration court

 

Cesar applied to join the New York bar in 2012, but the Second Department’s Committee on Character and Fitness recommended against his application because of his immigration status. In June, 2015, and after nearly three-years legal battle, a five-judge panel in New York ruled that Cesar can be admitted to practice law in the state he has called home for most of his life. In February of 2016, he was finally sworn-in as a licensed attorney making history as the first undocumented lawyer in the state of New York.

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Cesar Vargas in an interview with Tar Macias of Hola America News in 2018 on one of his visits to Iowa. 

Photo Erika Macias

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