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Law Students of the Year: Javier Garcia, University of New Mexico

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Javier Garcia was born and raised in California to parents who came to the U.S. from Mexico as undocumented immigrants. Yes, he’s yet another example of an immigrant who looked to a career in law to help others.

Initially, he graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 with a B.A. in history and taught ninth grade in New Mexico. Specifically, he taught at a charter school that focuses on community engagement and social activism.

He worked with undocumented students who are the first in their families to graduate high school and enroll in college. Knowing that families in the South Valley of Albuquerque need immigration legal services, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico Law School of Law in the hopes of providing direct representation to those families.

Garcia is committed to working with immigrant children and families in at least three ways. First, his work as a legal assistant at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center provided him an opportunity to help immigrant youth apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He directly represented more than two dozen students, some of whom were his former ninth grade students.

Second, as a fellow in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, Garcia teaches high school students their constitutional rights, with particular attention to their rights during a police encounter. He also coached several students in a high school moot court competition.

Third, as Editor-in-Chief of New Mexico Law Review, he supervises the publication process of articles relevant to the state and the country. His student note, which New Mexico Law Review published last year, focuses on juvenile Miranda rights in schools and the scope of those rights under both the U.S. Constitution and New Mexico statutes and case law.

He argues that a school administrator who questions a child about conduct that both violates school discipline and is a crime and subsequently reports the information to a police officer must provide that child a Miranda warning before conducting the questioning. Garcia’s commitment to immigrant children takes several forms, from providing them direct representation, to enriching their understanding of the Constitution, and even to proposing practical solutions that will protect their constitutional rights in school.

After law school, Garcia will be a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Edward L. Chávez at the New Mexico Supreme Court, and subsequently would like to work in a nonprofit that provides immigration legal services to children and victims of domestic violence and violent crime.

Garcia is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s 2017 “Law Student of the Year” feature. Find more honorees here

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