Garcia becomes first undocumented immigrant lawyer
Updated On: Feb 02 2014 02:00:00 AM CST
On the sunny steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento Saturday, Chico's Sergio Garcia became the first undocumented immigrant in U.S. history to be sworn in as a lawyer.
The iconic California building played the perfect backdrop for Garcia's swearing in.
After all, it took all three branches of state government to make it a reality--a bill passed by the state legislature, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown and finally a ruling by the State Supreme Court just last month paved the way.
Complete with Mariachi band, Garcia's big day was as much a celebration as it was a swearing in.
Also, fittingly, Cruz Reynoso, the first Chicano Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, did the honors.
"That was a tremendous moment," Garcia said. "[I'm] super excited to have the honorable Cruz Reynoso do my swearing in. You know, he's legendary, has a tremendous reputation of hard work. I couldn't have anyone better and couldn't think of anyone better to do the honor of swearing me in."
Garcia came to the United States as an infant. His father soon applied him for citizenship but it never officially went through.
He graduated from law school in 2009 and passed the state bar exam the same year on his first try.
And after more than a four-year long battle to say his vows, Garcia became the first undocumented immigrant lawyer in U.S. history.
Garcia's mother, father, brothers and sisters were all there, emotional at what they were witnessing.
His sister, Adriana Covarrobais, said this day proves where perseverance can get you.
"It's just always a struggle, you know, seeing what he's gone through and we're just finally happy to know that he can finally make his dream a reality," said Covarrobais.
But Garcia hopes the momentum doesn't stop here and carries on to other states and on to the country as a whole.
"It's a good day to be alive," he said. "And California did great. It's a wonderful message to send. The American dream is still alive and well and we're moving forward."
Garcia said he'll now shift his focus and help students struggling financially through his new foundation and scholarship fund.
"Even though the government has seemed to not prioritize education we will step in and help our students," he said.
Chico City Councilmember Ann Schwab drove down for the special moment.
She said she's heard from undocumented students trying to make a place in California and will stand by Garcia's side.
"We need to open those doors for those that really truly want to be citizens," Schwab said. "That's what America was founded on. "
And although the symbolic culmination of Garcia's struggle ended in Sacramento, he can't forget his Northstate roots.
"All my people from Butte County, I love you all," exclaimed Garcia. "All my neighbors who wash my truck when I'm not there, who bring me a slice of cheese cake when I come back, I love you guys and thank you for the support."
Aside from working with his foundation to raise $100,000 worth of scholarships, Garcia explained he'll take on mostly personal injury cases while working as a lawyer.
He said he wants to help others fight the battles of the legal system like him and champion the cause of immigration reform.
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