In 2011, Sergio Garcias ex-farmworker parents in the Butte County community of Durham held a lavish party for the new lawyer in town. Garcia, a graduate of Cal Northern School of Law in Chico, had just passed the state bar exam. His parents rented a limo and party room. Local Spanish-language radio celebrated his achievement.
But then the California Supreme Court stepped in and put Garcias law license on hold. It asked the State Bar of California to show cause for why Garcia, an undocumented immigrant who first came to California at the age of 17 months, should be allowed to practice law.
On Saturday, Garcia was officially certified as a member of the legal profession in California. He was sworn in at the state Capitol by Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the state Supreme Court. The ceremony capped a three-year legal saga for Garcia.
On Jan. 2, the state high court ruled that Garcia, 36, had met the requirements of good moral character to legally work as an attorney in California. The ruling was believed to be the first time a state knowingly allowed someone lacking legal residency to practice law.
Garcias father, Salvador Covarrubias, earned U.S. citizenship in 1994. His mother, Albertina Garcia, is a legal permanent resident, and three other siblings are American-born citizens. Nineteen years ago, Garcia applied for an immigration green card allowing permanent residency and the legal right to work. Immigration authorities have yet to rule on his application.
Last year, state lawmakers passed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants who pass the California bar to practice law.
Garcia says he hopes to work on civil litigation cases, including auto accidents and debt negotiation, and immigration and criminal matters.
On Saturday, he announced a youth scholarship fund for his Sergio C. Garcia Foundation, which declares a mission of supporting our youth independently of their background as long as they have the will, drive and need to succeed.
Call The Bees Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.