The Florida Supreme Court ruled today that an undocumented immigrant and Florida State University law school graduate Jose Godinez-Samperio cannot be admitted to practice by the Florida Bar. This does not mean that this is the end for Godinez-Samperio. The Court urged the Florida Legislature to intervene and change the law quickly so a different outcome could be possible.
Godinez-Samperio came to the United States when he was only 9 years old with his parents, who ended up becoming visa overstays. He learned English, graduated High School and went on to college and law school. The Court ruled that since an immigrant’s status is determined by federal law and federal law prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving certain state benefits, the state could not convey a license to practice law to Godinez-Samperio.
In a similar case in California, the legislature changed the law to allow non-citizens to become members of the bar. Hopefully, Florida will consider doing the same.