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Chico's Garcia sees end to long battle to practice law

By Colin Steiner, csteiner@krcrtv.com
Published On: Oct 08 2013 12:30:00 AM CDT

Chico undocumented immigrant Sergio Garcia has been fighting for four years to get his license to practice law, and on Saturday Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to make that dream a reality.

"It's kind of like walking on clouds," Garcia says. "When Assemblywoman Loretta Gonzalez called me early on Saturday and said, 'Your bill was just signed by Governor Brown,' I had to get a retake."

Garcia's fight took him all the way to the State Supreme Court.

At that poing the Obama administration suggested California would have to pass legislation to make his goal a possibility.

Saturday morning the governor signed SB 1024, which allows undocumented immigrants who have passed the bar exam, like Garcia, to receive a license to practice law.

"It was a very emotional moment and I'm very sensitive as it is--I kind of broke down."

Garcia's father is a U.S. citizen who applied for Sergio to get a green card in 1994, he says he's been waiting ever since.

"Basically 19 years ago the government said, 'We're going to give you a green card, it's in the mail.' But 19 years later it's still in the mail," he says.

The new legislation is the first of its kind in the nation and Garcia hopes it sets a precedent.

In fact, Florida and New York state are looking at passing similar laws.

"I'm really hoping that they'll take a cue from California and do the right thing and help those students out there fulfill their dream as well," Garcia says. "And move forward with their lives and contribute in a positive way to society."

Some are even calling the new legislation "The Garcia Law," but Garcia himself only jokes about it.

"No, for constitutional reasons it's AB 1024," he says. "And it's inspired by yours truly but it's not 'The Garcia Law.'"