CHICO – Soon, the first undocumented lawyer in the nation will release his book that tells the story of his journey.
Sergio Garcia, of the Law Offices of Sergio C. Garcia in Durham, releases his autobiography, “Undocumented Lawyer,” on March 1. The book recounts his family crossing the Mexican-U.S. border, struggling to learn English, and his journey to earn the chance to practice law as an undocumented Mexican immigrant.
When readers finish his book, Garcia hopes people feel inspired.
“The hope is that the readers with and without status will walk away thinking, ‘If he was able to succeed, so can I,’” Garcia told the Northern California Record.
Garcia made headlines across the nation during his five-year battle against the U.S. Department of Justice and the California State Bar. After graduating from Cal Northern School of Law in 2009, he was prevented from practicing law due to his immigration status.
That same year, he filed a lawsuit that moved all the way up to the California Supreme Court. On Feb. 1, 2014, Garcia became the first undocumented immigrant to be admitted to the State Bar of California following the landmark case.
Being a part of a historic case is something he still can find difficult to wrap his head around.
“It's a very weird feeling,” Garcia said “I did not go out there looking to be part of history; it just happened. I still have a hard time when I do speeches at schools and I am introduced as living history.”
When he looks at his challenges over the years, he admits there were many, but one was more difficult than others.
“I think the toughest for me was the dilemma to either break the law by crossing the border unlawfully or be separated from my family,” Garcia said.
Garcia believes one of the many interesting passages in his book is that the Obama administration didn’t support his right to practice law. He thinks the administration did not lend its support because it “wanted to cover themselves and not look bad intervening in Arizona SB (Senate Bill 1070) and not here in California.”
At the time of passage in 2010, it was considered one of the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration acts of its time. Following a lawsuit, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional for an officer to make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.
“I was a huge disappointment, especially because the president never acknowledged my case,” Garcia said.
“Undocumented Lawyer” will be released at a time when immigration is a hot-button issue, specifically President Donald Trump’s recent actions to crack down on illegal immigration. Trump recently signed directives to begin building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to crack down on U.S. cities that shield undocumented immigrants.
“Trump’s actions are heartbreaking,” Garcia said. “It is hard to believe how someone so blessed can be so determined to wreck the life of those less fortunate. It's sad that we as a nation told Mr. Gorbachev, ‘tear down this wall,’ just now to build our own. I think his actions simply inspire me to continue inspiring others.”
Garcia added, “I am all for increased national security, by a belief that there are other more humane and effective ways of going about it. I believe building the wall will pose a huge conflict of interest for the president if any of the contracts are in any way beneficial to him personally. I also believe many more people will die trying to come into the country. I believe one does not miss that which one does not know. Therefore, I would urge people in Mexico to think twice before risking their lives to come to a country where there is so much hostility towards us at this point."