New Jersey admits first attorney who is a DACA recipient to state bar

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New Jersey has just admitted its first attorney who is also a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient to the state’s bar.

Mount Laurel resident Parthiv Patel was officially sworn in as a New Jersey lawyer Wednesday even though he was brought to the country illegally as a child.

He is the first undocumented immigrant to join the New Jersey bar, even though his status in the country remains uncertain after President Donald Trump announced an end to the DACA program.

“The danger is real, the danger is there…I know people in America are willing to stand up and stand next to me in this fight,” Patel says.

A 1996 federal statute prevents states from awarding professional licenses to immigrants who are in the United States without permission. But states can opt out of the statute. New Jersey is joining New York, California and Florida in doing just that.

“With this oath today we make it clear that New Jersey stands by our immigrant families,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Murphy also announced Wednesday that New Jersey will join 15 other states and Washington, D.C. in a lawsuit challenging President Trump's decision to end DACA. The governor said that he also wants to create a new office, the Office of Immigrant Protection and Defense, to assist undocumented immigrants.

Some advocates told News 12 New Jersey that they hope that Murphy goes further. The ACLU said it wants to see him make New Jersey a sanctuary state.

“We still have a long way to go in New Jersey and we're relying on the governor and the attorney general to take steps to protect all New Jerseyans regardless of their immigration status,” said ACLU executive director Amol Sinha.

Murphy said that any further moves on the issue would need to be more than symbolic.

Immigration advocates now use the term “fair and welcoming,” instead of “sanctuary” because state policies cannot actually stop deportations.

DACA is set to end March 5. President Donald Trump says he is working to strike a political deal on a DACA compromise. The president lashed out at a group of mayors who boycotted a White House event over the immigration issue.

The president has tweeted “if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”

New Jersey has 22,000 DACA recipients.

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