Watch CBS News

Undocumented Immigrant Sworn In As Attorney In California

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - He's living in California illegally, but now he can legally practice law. California has allowed an undocumented immigrant into the state bar.

His swearing-in ceremony was today, following a legal debate decades in the making. The steps of the California capitol served as the stage for Sergio Garcia's dream come true.

The undocumented immigrant was sworn in as a lawyer by former California Supreme Court Judge Cruz Reynoso. Senate President Pro-tem Darrell Steinberg was there in support.

"And it's a long, hard-fought battle, but we're finally here. I'm so glad and it's a beautiful day," said Sergio Garcia

The state legislature made it legal for undocumented immigrants to practice law and the state Supreme Court passed its landmark ruling in January.

President Obama called for federal immigration reform in his State of the Union speech.

"Hopefully have this immigration system fixed this year. The time for talking, the time for a lot of nice speeches is over. The time for action now," said Garcia.

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

"I mean, most of us get tired of waiting two hours at DMV. Imagine trying to wait 19 years," said Garcia.

Garcia is still waiting to become a legal U.S. citizen, but his wait to practice law is over.

Looking at the federal backlog of green card applications, Garcia says he doesn't believe he will be granted legal residency until 2019.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.