Sergio García, America's First Illegal Immigrant Lawyer, May Run for Governor

The first attorney in history to receive admission to a state bar association despite being in America illegally says practicing law isn't the limit for him; he might run for governor of California.

Sergio García, who was brought into the country illegally at 17 months and has been waiting 19 years for a legal permit, stayed in America, and graduated from Cal Northern School of Law in 2009, told EFE that he could see himself "launching a political campaign." 

"Insofar as it's legally possible for me, I'm thinking of launching a political campaign with the aim of eventually, perhaps many years from now, running for governor," he said.

He noted that he is still very much interested in practicing law, but that being undocumented in the United States poses barriers even for an admitted member of the California bar. While the California bar wanted to accept him, his case reached the California Supreme Court when the Justice Department objected to his admission on account of his legal status. And many things remain out of reach for Garcia. 

It is illegal, for example, for any firm to hire him and for him to receive payment from clients. "I can't take a job from a person who's here legally, but there's absolutely no law that says that I can't create my own job and open my own company," he noted, which means that, as a lawyer, he may have to hang up his own shingle. And Garcia added that this is where the idea of running for public office came: there are no specific rules for some low-level offices mentioning legal status in the United States, and "many years from now," it is possible Garcia's status in the country will be stabilized.

California became the first state to allow an illegal immigrant to practice law this month when the California Supreme Court ruled that Garcia, who graduated law school and passed the state bar, should be allowed membership. The California legislature had previously attempted to pass a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to work in the legal industry, but the state courts preempted it. Governor Jerry Brown signed a law shortly after the court decision cementing the practice, however. The Court's Chief Justice, Tani Catil-Sakauye, stated in the court decision that "the admission of an undocumented immigrant who has met all the qualifications for admission to the State Bar is fully consistent with this state's public policy."


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