Skip to comments.Undocumented Immigrant Asks Florida Supreme Court For Chance To Practice Law
Posted on 03/08/2012 7:44:29 AM PST by Iron Munro
He came to the United States as a fourth-grader who spoke only Spanish. He needed a year to learn English, then refused to let anything slow him down again.
He became the 2004 valedictorian at Armwood High School in Seffner, an anthropology major at New College, a law student at Florida State University. He passed the bar exam last year on his first try.
But when he applied for admission to the Florida Bar, José Godínez-Samperio was stopped in his tracks.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners refused to consider his application, instead asking the Florida Supreme Court to settle a question:
Are undocumented immigrants eligible for admission to the Bar?
The decision will be closely watched in Florida, where the board has required applicants to produce proof of citizenship or immigration status since 2008.
Godínez-Samperio, 25, said he knew admission would be difficult. But he thought he should try.
"I knew if I didn't try, I'd always have a 'no,' " he said. "And if I tried, I'd at least have a 'maybe.' "
His legal team argues the board is abiding by an "unwise" policy that was not properly adopted in the first place. They say that Florida has a long history of helping immigrants in similar situations, such as creating a special avenue for Bar admission to Cuban-Americans educated in Cuban law schools.
Former FSU president Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, taught Godínez-Samperio in law school and now represents him in the Supreme Court case. D'Alemberte said it's important to note that he ended up with the undocumented status through no fault of his own.
He came with his parents to the United States and made the best of his situation, D'Alemberte said.
"Why are you going to keep a kid like that out of the Bar?" said D'Alemberte, a former state legislator and past president of the American Bar Association.
Officials with the Board of Bar Examiners a separate agency from the Florida Bar did not return a phone call Wednesday. The Florida Bar has not taken a position on the matter, a spokeswoman said.
Godínez-Samperio's said his parents were professionals in Mexico his mother was a dentist, his father a veterinarian but could not afford to feed their two children.
So they came to the United States 16 years ago on tourist visas and never left. They settled into rural Hillsborough, his father taking a job milking cows on a dairy farm and his mother working at a sliding-glass door manufacturer.
Neither speaks English, though Godínez-Samperio remembers they sat with him after school every night his father coming in with mud on his boots, his mother covered in dust and helped with science and math homework.
Because he is undocumented, Godínez-Samperio can't get a drivers license.
He can't legally work, which meant he never bothered to run for student government at New College because the positions were paid. He could not obtain a Bright Futures scholarship or college loans, so he sought private foundation scholarships to pay his way.
Ask him what he does for fun, and he mentions only the camping trips he used to take with the Boy Scouts. He shared a dorm room with two other students and studied most weekends.
In law school, D'Alemberte remembers him as the student who always sat near the front of the class, always participated, always stopped by the office or dropped an email to get a point clarified.
Said Godínez-Samperio: "I didn't have the privilege of being an average student."
He has not tried to hide his status. Last year, he testified to a state legislative committee that was voting on an immigration proposal.
"I am undocumented, unapologetic and unafraid," he said then.
Godínez-Samperio lacks legal standing to apply for citizenship and is someone who would have benefitted from the Dream Act, a decades-old proposal to allow undocumented children to obtain permanent residency by enrolling in college or serving in the military.
The Obama administration last year said it would be more lenient in the cases of certain undocumented immigrants, including those who arrived in the country as children.
In a recent high-profile case, a North Miami Senior High School valedictorian threatened with deportation learned Wednesday she will be able to stay in the United States for two more years.
Godínez-Samperio said his experience shaped his goal of becoming an immigration lawyer, something he has dreamed of since high school. What he could do if he did get his credentials is unclear, however, given that federal law forbids him from working for pay. His attorneys point out that he could provide pro bono legal services or could practice in other countries.
And if the court issues an opinion against him? He said he doesn't know what he'll do. He said he hopes to put a personal spin on an issue more often debated in impersonal terms.
"I'm an immigrant," he said, "and I don't think a lot of people see the human face."
If an illegal cannot legally be employed to pick produce or work on an assembly line why should an illegal be allowed to practice law?
Illegals are not legally employable - This is the logic of not spending taxpayers' money to send illegals to college that liberals cannot seem to grasp.
There is no lower limit to the standards pushed upon us by the MSM.
I guess that this “brilliant” student never had the time or inclination to go through our legal process and become naturalized, eh?
Given that, we have neither the time nor the inclination to give a big fat smelly Obama about his law practice.
Shove it....shove it deep, shove it often.
Not surprising. In 08 Roger Calero, a previously deported now resident alien was on ballots in several states as a socialist party candidate for president.
That’s what I say. It wasn’t that he’s being prevented from becoming an American citizen and then go to school. He should have been going through the process and then go to school.
He ought to be allowed to practice international law under Leon.
The pardon power given the President by the Constitution is not limited by any check or balance by Congress or the Courts.
Is there any particular reason the President cannot use this power to amnesty illegal aliens as he chooses?
Like we need another lawyer in this country!
He could pardon their crime of illegal entry, he can not issue legal status.
As I understand it, he has the constitutional authority to extend amnesty to someone for a conviction or criminal act (actual or potential).
But a president does not have the power to bestow citizenship at will.
Well the kid has been a thief his whole life and wants to stay in the profession. Send his ass back where he and his parents came from.
However, I’m curious whether the President could pardon aliens from the penalties associated with their status, giving them in practice the equivalent of a green card.
He certainly can pardon them from any criminal penalties. I’m not sure whether he can do so with civil penalties.
I’m most struck by the fact that his reportedly highly educated parents came to this country, and never bothered to learn English. Sixteen years, and not a moment to spare, I guess...
He can pardon them but he cannot give citizenship.
The President can, of course, just refuse to enforce the law against illegal aliens, which is essentially what he and previous presidents have been doing for decades.
Congress has limited ways of forcing him to enforce a law if he doesn’t want to.
Yes, lawless presidents, including Bush, have been doing that.
The Obama administration is now engaged in a massive back door amnesty, whereby over 300,000 cases are being reviewed with most being closed and the recipients receiving work permits if they are not considered to be "criminal aliens." It is allegedly being done on a case by case basis, but the effect is a large scale, rolling amnesty for some who have even been order deported. ICE is using the criteria in the Dream Act to review the cases.
This is outrageous. Deport the illegal alien.
All true, and you hear the republican leadership in congress doing something about it every day. NOT. Damn worthless boner.
No, Lamar Smith is fighting it. The Rep leadership, Boehner and Cantor, are preventing a number of immigration enforcement measures from being brought up on the House floor for fear of alienating the so-called Hispanic vote further.
To Mr. José Godínez-Samperio, you are not really an immigrant.
Nor were your parents, as you freely acknowledge.
I see the human faces of illegal aliens, and also the destructive consequences to our civil society, on local, state and national levels.
An untold number of millions of foreign nationals from hundreds of countries also did not legally “immigrate” into the USA.
I want you, your family, and all illegal aliens summarily deported, whenever we find you.
And yes, that includes the aunt and uncle of the current POTUS.
You and your ilk are one on the major reasons the USA is quickly sliding into a failed corrupt state, no longer governed by laws.
So Mr. José Godínez-Samperio, if you really want to seek legal immigrant status in the USA, you need to seriously talk to your family about the legal methods and consequences.
Or you can try to silently slide back into your shadow underground criminal society your parents helped create, untill you are all deported by attrition or by force.
Millions of men and women from hundreds of nations who want to legally immigrate into the USA are impatiently awaiting their opportunity.
You and your family are killing their dreams, and I dont think you should be rewarded for that.
With such disdain for the rule of law, this guy would make a swell lawyer, huh?? Not too bright either, if he didn’t expect some repercussion from his illegality.
I have nothing against the Spanish language,but I am so sick and tired of hearing it in public.
Speak English or get out!