Juan Rocha was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. He and his parents applied for lawful permanent residency after President Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty and a path to lawful status to undocumented immigrants living in the United States before January 1, 1982. In March of 1996, he became a United States citizen. Two years later, armed with a U.S. passport, Juan moved to Thailand and traveled around Southeast Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia). After graduating from Arizona State University, he picked up his passport and traveled to Western Europe, and later visited Central and South America. In 2001, he moved to Chicago and attended graduate school at the University of Chicago where he had the fortune of being a student of then-Professor Barack Obama. He received his law degree from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law.
For six years he was an Assistant Federal Public Defender representing indigent clients in federal court and argued cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2013, he founded his law firm representing clients in criminal and immigration courts. Juan has written extensively on the intersection of criminal and immigration law. His articles have been published by the University of Chicago; the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL); and The Federal Bar Association, to name a few places. Juan has also appeared on PBS and Spanish-language radio and television to discuss criminal and immigration law and public policy.
Juan is a lecturer at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He teaches a class titled, "Southwest Border Crimes." The focus of the course is how the federal government uses criminal and immigration law to prosecute noncitizens and how these prosecutions impact a noncitizen’s immigration status. Juan has been a presenter at law conferences and universities. He gave the keynote address at San Diego State University’s symposium on “Crimmigraiton”, he has lectured at the University of Arizona School of Law, the National Association of Legal Investigators, and has presented at various continuing legal education seminars. He has also written editorial pieces about Arizona politics and has been quoted by The New York Times.
Juan’s story is an example of how reasonable immigration policy produces good citizens and enriches a country.