Juan P. Garcia-Machado, Illegal Immigrant and SDSU Student, Is Reportedly Employed by State Capitol, Has Advised Politicians
The employee's name is Juan P. Garcia-Machado, a San Diego State University student set to graduate in 2012. And from the looks of his NBC LA profile today and his LinkedIn account, he's brighter and more driven than 90 percent of the students we went to college with.
But his July fellowship in the office of Assemblymember Marty Block (and before that, Assemblymember Tony Mendoza), both of which came with a $3,000 stipend, are sure to send Southern California conservatives into a rage:
"When I was working with Assemblyman Mendoza or Assemblyman Block's office, I was actually advising the member on how to vote on certain things by collecting information, by analyzing bills, by doing things that other people are not able to do," he told NBC reporters.
And later: "It was analyzing the bills, the positions and how he would feel about it and all that kind of stuff. It was awesome."
One of the most controversial bills to go through the Legislature during Garcia-Machado's fellowship was the DREAM Act, which allows universities to provide financial aid to undocumented students. The second portion of that bill, which would open illegal-alien scholarships up to taxpayer funds, is tricker to pass, and still on the table.
Garcia-Machado says L.A. Assemblymember Tony Mendoza knew he was undocumented.
Garcia-Machado requested to remain anonymous in the NBC article, and is referred to only as "Sergio."
The active SDSU leader told reporters that Assemblymember Mendoza was aware of his undocumented status at the time of hire. With Block, however, "I didn't mention it and it wasn't an issue that was addressed whatsoever. At some point, it didn't need to be addressed."
Assemblymember Block's area of jurisdiction includes southern San Diego, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley -- as saturated with Mexican immigrants as an area can get, this side of Tijuana. Likewise, Assemblymember Mendoza represents some of L.A. County's most heavily Latino bits, including Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk, Buena Park, Santa Fe Springs and parts of Lakewood and Whittier.
It's been a big year for coming out of the closet, per se: A few of Garcia-Machado's high-achieving contemporaries have chosen to reveal their lack of citizenship as a form of protest. Prerna Lal, a
@jgarcia_sdsu via Twitter Garcia-Machado California college student law student in the Capitol and postergirl for the DREAM Act movement, wrote "Undocumented, Unafraid and Unapologetic" in her school newspaper, and went on to help found an "I Am Undocumented" T-shirt line. She's currently fighting deportation.
Most famously, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself in the New York Times in June. Another, newer Pulitzer Prize-winner -- the Los Angeles Times' Ruben Vives -- was revealed to have come to the U.S. illegally, as well (though he's since gained citizenship).
In general, a more complex understanding of how difficult it can be to follow immigration laws, and how us vs. them it is to bar kids who grew up in California from achieving their big California dreams, has begun to see open air. Case in point: "Education Not Deportation: A Guide for Undocumented Youth in Removal Proceedings."
But this is the first time a state-payed employee and aspiring political player has come forward with his secret, albeit anonymously. And during the big E-Verify debate, no less. You tell us: What does it mean for California and its people, whether they be native or foreign-born?