CBS Trumpets 'Historic', 'Unprecedented' Move to Let Illegal Immigrant Practice Law

Friday's CBS This Morning hyped the California Supreme Court's decision to allow the Golden State to issue law license to illegal immigrants. Substitute anchor Anthony Mason touted the "historic ruling that could give millions of undocumented workers new freedom." Norah O'Donnell trumpeted how "supporters of undocumented immigrants are praising an unprecedented ruling."

O'Donnell later underlined "the decision that could...open new doors for millions." John Blackstone featured two soundbites from the new lawyer – Sergio Garcia – whose parents "brought him here illegally from Mexico when he was 17 months old," but none from opponents of the ruling [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump].

Mason teased Blackstone's report with his "historic" label of the California court's decision. O'Donnell led into the segment with her "unprecedented ruling" phrase, and quickly added her gushing "open new doors for millions" line about the move. Blackstone soon noted that Garcia's "problem started when he graduated from law school and passed the bar exam on his first try."

The CBS correspondent then played his first clip from the illegal immigrant, and outlined that "California's governor signed a law, specifically written for Garcia, allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for law licenses. The state supreme court ruled yesterday the new legislation 'removes any potential statutory obstacle to Garcia's admission' to the bar."

Later in the report, Blackstone did point out that "the Obama administration insists federal immigration law forbids employment for undocumented immigrants. The Justice Department filing in Garcia's case says 'issuance of a law license to Mr. Garcia would not imply authorization to work in the United States.'" But he didn't play any soundbites from administration officials, nor did he include any from opponents of illegal immigration.

Blackstone has a history of filing slanted reports on the issue of illegal immigration. Back in June 2013, the journalist zeroed in on the sob story of fourth graders in California who are lobbying President Obama to allow the return of their former classmate, who was deported with his family back to Mexico. In May 2011, he also spotlighted the plight of the then-student body president at California State University at Fresno, who "joined other young undocumented immigrants pushing for passage of the Dream Act."

The full transcript of John Blackstone's report from Friday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: And this morning, supporters of undocumented immigrants are praising an unprecedented ruling. The California Supreme Court says a man who passed the bar can work as an attorney – despite the fact that he was brought to this country illegally.

John Blackstone with the decision that could open the new door – open new doors for millions.

[CBS News Graphic: "Admitted To The Bar: Court: Undocumented Immigrant Can Practice Law"]

JOHN BLACKSTONE (voice-over): Sergio Garcia has spent most of his life in the United States. His parents first brought him here illegally from Mexico when he was 17 months old. His problem started when he graduated from law school and passed the bar exam on his first try.

SERGIO GARCIA: After I passed the bar – after I cleared the good moral character – you know, they said, well, that's great, but because of your undocumented status, we're still not sure. We have never dealt with this question in history.

BLACKSTONE: The question: can an undocumented immigrant get a license to practice law? The federal government says no.


JEROME FISHKIN, ATTORNEY (from legal proceedings): Thank you, your honor. Jerome Fishkin on behalf of Sergio Garcia-

BLACKSTONE: Garcia took his case to the California Supreme Court.

FISHKIN (from legal proceedings): This court can admit lawyers; this court can discipline lawyers-

BLACKSTONE: California's governor signed a law, specifically written for Garcia, allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for law licenses. The state supreme court ruled yesterday the new legislation 'removes any potential statutory obstacle to Garcia's admission' to the bar.

GARCIA: We finally have the final piece of the puzzle that will allow me to fulfill my dream, and finally become an attorney.

BLACKSTONE: But the Obama administration insists federal immigration law forbids employment for undocumented immigrants. The Justice Department filing in Garcia's case says 'issuance of a law license to Mr. Garcia would not imply authorization to work in the United States.'

In spite of that, Garcia intends to begin practicing law. For 'CBS This Morning,' John Blackstone, San Francisco.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center