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 took 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 in 2006.
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. Juan has also appeared on PBS and Spanish-language radio and television to discuss the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
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 to show how the federal government uses criminal and immigration law to civilly and criminally prosecute noncitizens to enforce border security. Juan has been a presenter at various law conferences and universities. He has presented at the San Diego State University’s symposium on “Crimmigration,” been a guest lecturer at the University of Arizona College of Law in Tucson, Arizona, and presented at the annual conferences of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Arizona Public Defender Association. He continues to teach at various continuing legal education seminars. Juan 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.