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Indian American Parthiv Patel becomes first “Dreamer” to be admitted to New Jersey bar

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Ceremony administered by Indian American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal administering the oath to lawyer Parthiv Patel, as Governor Phil Murphy (left) looks on.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal administering the oath to lawyer Parthiv Patel, as Governor Phil Murphy (left) looks on. Photo credit: twitter

While the Trump administration is hardening its immigration policies and dithering on the issue of the so-called Dreamers, the state of New Jersey is taking bold steps to protect them.

On Wednesday, Indian American Parthiv Patel was admitted to the New Jersey bar in a ceremony administered by the newly appointed Indian American Attorney General of the state Gurbir Grewal, with Gov. Phil Murphy at his side.

Patel is the first “Dreamer” to be admitted to the state bar. A graduate of Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, he hopes to use his law degree to serve others.

“Today, we are honored to swear-in Parthiv Patel as the first DREAMer in state history to be admitted to the @NJStateBar,” tweeted Governor Murphy after the ceremony. “New Jersey will have the backs of our 22,000 DREAMers even when Washington refuses to stand up for them.”

“For the chief law enforcement officer of my home state to administer the pledge to uphold the law and Constitution, and for the governor to be in attendance, the only word I can use is humbling,” said Patel.

“The process of getting admitted to practice law has been daunting, but today’s ceremony is a reminder of the reason I’ve strived so hard to become a lawyer: to use my training and abilities to uplift others. In a climate of anxiety, it’s a comfort to know that we Dreamers are not alone in this fight,” he added.

Murphy announced during the swearing-in ceremony that the Garden State is seeking to join the lawsuit with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 15 other attorneys general to protect undocumented young people.

“To deny DREAMers the ability to become American citizens is to deny justice – the very sense of justice that Parthiv today swore to uphold. Thank you, Parthiv, for your courage and your perseverance,” Murphy later wrote in a Facebook post.

“Unfortunately, for every DREAMer, justice continues to be denied by the action in Congress on Monday,” he added. “That’s why AG Grewal and I are pleased to announce that we are joining the federal lawsuit filed by AG Schneiderman to preserve the protections afforded to DACA grantees.”

Patel, who came to the United States along with his parents when he was 5, was granted protection under DACA in 2012. But he was not granted bar admission initially based on his immigration status. The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners notified him that his immigration status made him ineligible.

In December last year, Patel was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar after he appealed with help from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and several cooperating attorneys.

“Parthiv’s long wait for bar admission shows the type of obstacles that Dreamers are up against, and at the same time, his determination and altruistic spirit in the face of uncertainty demonstrate the best that New Jersey and America have to offer,” said ACLU-NJ Senior Supervising Attorney Alexander Shalom, who worked on advocacy related to Patel’s case.

 

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