DREAMer Cesar Vargas (’11) Joins the New York Bar

February 3, 2016 | CUNY School of Law

Cesar Vargas (’11) was sworn in today to practice law, culminating his struggle of more than four years to become a lawyer.

“This victory is thanks to so many people standing by my side and fighting for me,” Vargas said.

Vargas was brought as a child to the US, without documentation. In June 2015, the state’s Appellate Division ruled that despite of his undocumented status, he should be admitted to practice law in New York State.

Cesar Vargas ('11) signs the roll of attorneys, after taking the oath.

Cesar Vargas (’11) signs the roll of attorneys, after taking the oath.

Vargas celebrated his swearing in today with a ceremony at St. Francis College, his alma matter, with supporters including CUNY Law faculty, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and elected officials.

Since graduating in 2011, Vargas has become a national activist for immigrant reform, pushing hard for passage of the DREAM Act. He co-founded the Dream Action Coalition (DRM), an organization dedicated to advocating for undocumented youth and was tapped in October to work on Latino outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

“Even though you need a license to practice law, you don’t need a license to fight for your family and community and your country,” Vargas said.

CUNY Law has supported Vargas on his quest to become a lawyer, with Dean Michelle J. Anderson testifying on his behalf before the character and fitness committee.

Dean Michelle J. Anderson, Cesar Vargas ('11), Prof. Janet Calvo

Dean Michelle J. Anderson, Cesar Vargas (’11), Prof. Janet Calvo

“So many at CUNY Law have invested our hearts and aspirations” to work to get Cesar to this point, Dean Anderson said.

Prof. Janet Calvo was also instrumental in supporting Vargas’s quest to become a practicing lawyer. She recalls his fierce determination as a law student. “He was quite remarkable,” said Calvo. “He commuted all the way from Staten Island to our old school [in Flushing]. Sometimes, he was commuting four hours a day to get to school.”