Should an undocumented immigrant be allowed to practice law if he has finished law school and passed his state’s bar exam? That is the question Florida’s Supreme Court is debating in the case of undocumented immigrant Jose Godinez-Samperio.
Godinez-Samperio, 26, came to the United States when he was nine years old with a traveler’s visa and overstayed his visa through no fault of his own, for it was his parents’ decision. He graduated high school as a valedictorian and received a scholarship to New College in Florida. Because of his exemplary performance there, he was then granted a scholarship to law school at Florida State University. He graduated in May 2011 and passed the bar exam a month later.
Due to his lack of lawful status, he is not able to receive his license to practice law. Because Godinez-Samperio qualifies for Deferred Action, DACA, one could argue that he should focus his attention on applying to receive a work authorization through that. But with elections coming up, and Republican Candidate Mitt Romney not clarifying whether or not he will continue to accept applications for the DACA program, Godinez-Samperio is looking to focus on receiving legal status with legislation like the DREAM Act. Deferred Action does not provide legal status; the DREAM act would.
His case can serve as an example of the determination and hard work of young immigrants. The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for many others who are in Godinez-Samperio’s situation, young people brought to the U.S. as children and who worked hard to excel at school to try to reach the American Dream.