Florida supreme court rules illegal immigrants cannot receive law license

by Rachel Baker on March 7, 2014

I’ve tried three times to write a lead in to this story. I can’t. Stories like this make me angry with the state I live and do business in.

The kid being discussed was brought to the US as a 9-year old, went on to be valedictorian at his high school, an Eagle Scout and graduated law school and passed the bar exams; and will probably in his own small way will help to make this country a little bit better.

Immigrants in the country illegally can’t be given a license to practice law, a question that was raised when a man who moved here from Mexico when he was nine-years-old sought a license in Florida, the state supreme court ruled Thursday.

The court said federal law prohibits people who are unlawfully in the country from obtaining professional licenses. The justices said state law can override the federal ban, but Florida has taken no action to do so.

The case involves Jose Godinez-Samperio, whose parents brought him to the United States on tourist visas and then never returned to Mexico. He graduated from New College in Florida, earned a law degree from Florida State University and passed the state bar in 2011.

Godinez-Samperio was represented by his former law professor, Sandy D’Alemberte, who is a former American Bar Association president.

“Simply stated, current federal law prohibits this court from issuing a license to practice law to an unlawful or unauthorized immigrant,” the court wrote.

Separately, justice Jorge Labarga expressed disappointment in the decision even though he reluctantly agreed with it. He called the situation an injustice and mentioned Godinez-Samperio’s was an Eagle Scout and the valedictorian of his high school.

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