Miami, FL -April 15, 2012 -Jose Godinez-Samperio, a Mexican native who entered the United States legally by means of a tourist visa with his parents 16 years ago, graduated Florida State University College of Law, was the valedictorian of the Armwood High School class of 2004, and an Eagle Scout cannot practice law because he is an undocumented immigrant.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which holds the power to grant membership to the Bar, has requested the state Supreme Court to decide whether it can allow someone who is not in the country legally to practice law. Last week, the Supreme Court marked the case as "high profile."
In New York, another Mexican immigrant After Interning for Brooklyn DA’s Office and Passing Bar Exam cannot work as a lawyer because he was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.
Cesar Vargas was 5 years old when he arrived from Puebla, Mexico, with his mother in 1990. Now a 28-year-old City University of New York law graduate and said he is looking forward to see how the California and Florida courts decide two similar cases involving Mexican immigrants.
The California state Supreme Court is close to deciding whether to deny, Sergio Garcia’s law license only on the basis of his immigration status. Garcia is a Mexican immigrant whose parents brough him in thorugh the Mexican border when he was 17 months old.
These immigrants and many others in a similar plight could soon become part of a national debate.
Godinez-Samperio has a strong and influential team of supporters. His attorney, a former law professor, Sandy D'Alemberte, was a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives from Miami and, more importantly a former president of the American Bar Association.
"It is unfair to deny him the credentials he's earned," said D'Alemberte, pointing out that there's nothing in the "Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Florida Bar" that requires applicants to prove their immigration status.
In actuality, D'Alemberte said, Godinez-Samperio has been frank about his status at every occasion, disclosing it on college and law school applications.
Three other past American Bar Association presidents, two of whom once were in charge of the Florida Bar, are taking Godinez-Samperio’s side. Agreeing with D'Alemberte, they recommended that Godinez-Samperio can practice law in Florida if he undertakes pro-bono cases.
Immigration advocates have been lobbying Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented children who were brought to this country at an early age, for more than a decade. Meanwhile these children become adults. Many are not so fortunate or industrious to undertake the challenges of obtaining a law degree or other advanced degree and find themselves between “the rock and the hard place” as they cannot obtain student loans to go to school, cannot obtain a license and are unable to work legally.
Congress in it’s wisdom, seems to have ignored these children.