On Wednesday, thousands of immigrants across the state and county will be sworn in to become US citizens. Jose Godinez-Samperio is 26, a graduate of New College and the College of Law at Florida State University. He wants to be a lawyer, but his lack of citizenship is holding him back. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, Jose’s case is the perfect example of why some are calling for a “Dream Act.”
Jose Godinez Samperio attended the Florida Bar Annual Meeting this year. The Eagle Scout and Valedictorian of his Tampa high school graduated from New College, the state’s Honors College and from the Florida State College of Law, but whether Jose ever becomes a lawyer in Florida is up in the air. He is an undocumented alien who came to the US when he was 9.
“One day, about six months later, I was watching Barney and my visa expired. Of course, I didn’t know it then, as I was still 10 years old, and eventually I went through school just like any other kid,” Godinez-Samperio said.
Jose passed the Bar Exam with Flying colors.
But because Jose isn’t a citizen, bar examiners refused to admit him to practice law, and instead sent this first-ever case here to Florida’s Supreme Court.
Former FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte, along with three other former American Bar Association Presidents, have filed paperwork supporting Jose’s quest to be a lawyer.
“When you’re a nine year old and you decide to stay with your parents, that’s hardly a character defect,” D’Alemberte said. “What I would say to people is that Jose is exactly the kind of person we want as a citizen of the United States.”
No one has filed paperwork opposing Jose’s admission to the bar. He believes he’s proven he’s worthy to be a lawyer.
“I have not taken advantage of anybody’s taxes, I’m just here to contribute,” he said.
In the meantime, he is working as an activist and he plans to practice immigration law when and if he is allowed to be a lawyer.