Edgar Barraza Becomes First "Dreamer" to Join the Colorado Bar

When Edgar Barraza came to the United States as an 11-year-old undocumented immigrant in 1998 the odds seemed stacked against him. He spoke little English, his family had to work hard for everything they had, and state and federal scholarships for higher education were hard to come by. Despite his family’s difficult circumstances, Edgar’s mother believed that education was the key to unlocking the American dream, and she pushed Edgar to excel in his studies and to dream big.

Throughout high school Edgar worked full-time to help support his family, and often completed his homework in the early hours of the morning after getting off the late shift. When Edgar graduated from Denver West High School in 2006, he finished near the top of his class.

Although Edgar had done well in school, he found himself facing a significant obstacle: how to pay for college as an undocumented immigrant with no money and little access to financing or student loans. Few, except perhaps Edgar himself, could have imagined that years later Edgar would go on to become the first undocumented student, or “Dreamer,” to graduate from law school in Colorado and be admitted to the Colorado Bar.

With the help of longtime University of Denver (and IAALS) supporters Ralph and Trish Nagel, Edgar earned a scholarship to the University of Denver where he majored in international studies and political science before later enrolling at the DU Sturm College of Law. Edgar is now an associate at Rollin Braswell Fisher in Denver, and his story of perseverance serves as a shining example of the power of education and what it means to dream big.

IAALS had the pleasure of working with Edgar in 2014 when he assisted our Rule One Initiative by doing extensive research on international civil justice reform. We congratulate Edgar on all his success—and we continue to be inspired by his journey.

Mark Staines is a second-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.