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Undocumented Immigrant Lawyer Has Waited 19 Years For Citizenship

CHICO (CBS13) — An undocumented immigrant who passed the bar exam was granted the right to work as an attorney by the California Supreme Court.

Sergio Garcia already has the office in Chico, now he has his law license.

"Thank God we finally achieved one of my two dreams," he said. "Being licensed as a California attorney is one of them, becoming a U.S. citizen in is the second one.

Thursday's ruling was years in the making, drawing an international response.

Garcia is the new face of the U.S. immigration debate, proudly displaying his law school diploma and California bar acceptance on his office walls. Both were achieved as an undocumented immigrant.

"I think this is a Cinderella story. This is the fairy tale, the whole American dream," he said. "The whole David versus Goliath, it doesn't matter how little of a guy you are."

The federal government tried to stop Garcia from practicing, but California legislators passed a new law that took effect January making it legal.

"I think the rest of the country should take leadership tips from California, because I honestly would question what is the national interest in keeping someone who has a huge taxpayer interest from doing so," he said.

Garcia spent time in both California and Mexico until the age of 17 when his father moved him here permanently and submitted paperwork for a visa. That was 1995. Nineteen years later, the paperwork is still pending.

"Most of us get tired of waiting two hours at the DMV, imagine trying to wait 19 years," he said.

Garcia says after he gains his citizenship, he wants to become an elected official and one day run for governor.

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