Sergio Garcia talks life after fame

Nov 10, 2014 7:04 PM by Brian Johnson

The first illegal immigrant with a law license is speaking out, saying life after fame comes with a serious emotional price tag.

When we visited Sergio Garcia at his Chico law offices Monday morning, his hands were shaking.

Because the Sergio C. Garcia foundation, which will help struggling but motivated high school and college students, just came one step closer to actually handing out scholarships.

This morning an organization wrote his organization a generous check.

"$50,000," Garcia said. "So that will be money to go to our students you know. I don't even have kids, but it will be good, it feels good."

But don't get it confused, said Garcia. He started his law office, behind the Egg Roll King, with his own money.

Although he may have become famous after becoming the first undocumented attorney in America, he did not, contrary to what he says some people believe, become rich and famous.

"Nobody handed me a million dollar check the next day and said hey good luck, glad you fought this great fight, and best of luck to you," Garcia said. "I started without a dime in my pocket and started working on building this office in being able to get computers, printers, internet, all the basic stuff."

But life after fame has been anything basic for Garcia.
It's been a challenge from a professional standpoint, where he serves more than 30 clients, often times pro bono.

"I even had attorneys tell me well given that you fought and won a national case, and the experience you gained from it, your wages or your fees should be anywhere from $500 to $1000 per hour. We know good and well that in Butte County, nobody can afford those ridiculous rates," Garcia said.

But his struggle this year has also been personal, as his ultimate success ushered in a new wave of negative criticism.

"From life threats to phone calls in the middle of the night to actual attacks at both my office and my house," Garcia said.

Garcia said he slept with a knife under his pillow for some time.

Garcia blogs about how Governor Jerry Brown has moved immigration forward while the Obama administration has only stalled it.

Garcia also sees a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and acknowledges that overall economic insecurity may be a cause for some of the criticism coming his way.

"They always want to have somebody to blame and of course why not the immigrant who's here who's taking our job as an attorney..." Garcia said.

But Garcia wants to set the record straight that that is not what he's doing.

He argues he created his own employment, and contributes to the economy by paying state and federal taxes.

"I'm not out to make converts of people who hate me," he said.

Garcia said he doesn't waste his time responding to the negative, but instead tries to focus on the positive.

He said his strong relationships with friends, family, and politicians on both sides of the aisle keep him going.

Garcia said he's still holding out to find the right publisher for his life story and is excited at the prospect of a movie.

He said he's not planning on leaving Chico.


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