California Lawyer - November 2012 - (Page 108)
IN PRO PER
PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE
It’s ironic: The reason the bar questioned me in the first place was that I had been honest. When I filled in my personal information for the State Bar of California’s application for moral character determination, I listed my citizenship status as “pending.” (I’ve been on the green card wait-list for 17 years.) Eventually the Committee of Bar Examiners decided to throw its support behind me, and a year ago I was certified to become a licensed California attorney. At that point, like all bar applicants, all I needed in order to practice law was the approval of the California Supreme Court. The court considered my file for five months, and then last May it issued an Order to Show Cause as to why an undocumented immigrant should be given a law license. Of course I complied, with help from my pro bono counsel Lindsay Slatter and Jerome Fishkin. The high court also invited the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney general to weigh in on the issue. I was a bit overwhelmed, but also flattered. When my case started making headlines across the country, however, it got a little surreal. Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office filed an amicus brief in June, stating: “Admitting Garcia to the bar would be consistent with state and fedNOVEMBER 2012
eral policy that encourages immigrants, both documented and undocumented, to contribute to society.” But the brief filed in August by the U.S. Department of Justice opposed my licensing, setting the stage for a major legal confrontation. Now 17 amicus briefs have been filed, most of them in support of my position. We’re awaiting a date for oral argument (In re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission S202512). Though most people would find my situation frustrating, I prefer to focus on the positive. I have full faith and confidence in the great legal system I wish one day to be a part of. This is simply another opportunity to put my patience and perseverance to work. In the meantime, I’m helping young people fulfill their dreams through “deferred action,” the new immigration policy that lets some who came to the United States when they were children stay in this country. I’m helping the ones who meet certain requirements get work permits and driver’s licenses. Once my goal of joining the State Bar is realized, I intend to continue helping people through civil litigation. CL
Sergio Garcia, a graduate of Cal Northern School of Law who lives in Chico, hopes to make his dream come true and help others fulfill their own.
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