Donna Anderson
October 3, 2012

On Tuesday, the Florida State Supreme Court was asked to make a determination in what could be a precedent-setting case. Jose Godinez-Samperio has stepped forward and asked to become the first illegal immigrant in the US to obtain a license to practice law.

Jose Godinez-Samperio

Godinez-Samperio meets all the qualifications. He graduated from New College in Florida, earned a law degree from Florida State University and he passed the bar exam last year. However, Godinez-Samperio is not a US citizen, and that presents a problem.

Godinez-Samperio was 9-years old when his parents brought him into the US. His parents had a visitors visa, which allows you to stay in this country for a maximum of nine months, and they never returned to Mexico. Bodinez-Samperio is now 25 years old.

The Board of Bar Examiners in Florida has determined that, other than the fact he’s an illegal alien, there’s no reason Godinez-Samperio shouldn’t be granted a license since he’s met all of the other requirements, so they’ve consulted the Florida State Supreme Court.

Robert Blythe, lawyer for the board says, “It’s not really about this applicant. It’s a broader question.”

It is, indeed, a broader question, and Godinez-Samperio isn’t the only one asking. Sergio Garcia, another illegal immigrant who’s 35-years old, is also applying for a law license in California and so far the State Supreme Court has opposed his admission. Ceasar Vargas has passed the bar exam in New York and is waiting to see what the court decides on Godinez-Samperio’s case.

The Florida Supreme Court is currently considering granting Godinez-Samperio,a temporary, limited license which would allow him to do free legal work, while they wait to see if he obtains a work permit under President Obama’s new policy.

Godinez-Samperio has some heavy-weight supporters in his camp. Former American Bar Association presidet Talbot D’Alemberte, Godinez-Samperio’s attorney, said, “He’s somebody who has done everything he’s supposed to do. He complied with every rule.”

D’Alemberte, also the former Florida State University president and also one of Godinez-Samperio’s former instructors, argues that states have a constitutional right to decide who practices law in their courts.

At least one Florida justice also supports the cause. Jorge Labarga, a Cuban immigrant and naturalized American citizen says, “If he’s afforded a Social Security card that means he can work. Then what’s the issue?”

Let’s not even discuss the unemployment rate. At issue is the fact that Godinez-Samperio has been of legal age for more than seven years, plenty of time to become a naturalized, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of the United States. During those seven years he’s been in college, preparing to become a lawyer so he obviously knew this would eventually come up.

Should we even be considering this? Should we be wasting the Court’s time and the tax payers’ money trying to decide if we should give a Law license to someone who has so blatantly disregarded the laws of the country?

Donna Anderson writes for

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