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Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, “Undocumented” Immigrant, Earns Florida Bar Recommendation To Be an Attorney

| July 2, 2014

Jose Godinez-Samperio

Jose Godinez-Samperio

A law-school graduate, who became an undocumented immigrant as a child when his parents overstayed their visas in the United States, is now a key step closer to becoming a Florida attorney.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners on Tuesday recommended the state Supreme Court admit Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, of Largo, to The Florida Bar.

The action came less than two months after Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill (HB 755) that allows “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, to be eligible for The Bar.

“I’ve been waiting for over three years and the dream had seemed so far away,” Godinez-Samperio told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday. “Now that it’s happening, now that it’s becoming reality, it’s unspeakable.”

The Board of Bar Examiners recommendation followed a lengthy legal fight, which spurred state lawmakers to pass the bill aimed at allowing Godinez-Samperio to practice law. Godinez-Samperio received notice in September 2011 he had passed the Bar exam.

Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association and former dean of the Florida State University law school who represented Godinez-Samperio during the legal fight, said he has been waiting several weeks for the Board of Bar Examiners to forward the recommendation.

“I’m going to be shocked if we don’t get immediate approval by the court,” D’Alemberte said. “I hope that I’m not being too optimistic, but I think it’s very likely to come through.”

The court also would set a date for Godinez-Samperio, who currently works as a paralegal providing legal services on tax and affordable-housing issues, to be sworn in.

Godinez-Samperio moved to the United States from Mexico at age 9 and remained with his parents after their visas expired, which meant the family was here illegally.

He became an Eagle Scout, was valedictorian of his high school class, graduated from New College of Florida in Sarasota and attended law school at Florida State University before passing the Bar exam.

He received a waiver from showing his immigration status so he could take the exam in July 2011.

“At that point I thought I was fine,” Godinez-Samperio said. “Instead, I got a letter saying they were going to have to ask the court for an advisory opinion.”

Godinez-Samperio was blocked from admission to The Bar because he was not a U.S. citizen. In March, the Supreme Court upheld the prohibition, which led to the legislative action.

Cuban-born Justice Jorge Labarga, who was sworn in Monday as chief justice, “reluctantly” agreed with the majority in March, but offered his own strongly worded opinion that called on the Legislature to change state law to allow so-called “Dreamers” to become attorneys.


Labarga’s opinion was used during Senate debate on the bill and was highlighted during the chief justice’s swearing-in ceremony, which raised D’Alemberte’s optimism that the court will act swiftly.

The law expands eligibility to The Bar to people who were brought to the country as children, have been residents of the United States for more than a decade, have received documented employment authorization from federal immigration officials, have been issued Social Security cards and, if they are men, have registered with the Selective Service System.

Scott on May 12 signed the bill into law and it became effective immediately. The bill was one of two that lawmakers approved on the final day of the legislative session that opened doors for “Dreamers.”

The other measure (HB 851), a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford, will allow undocumented students to pay cheaper, in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities if they attend three years of secondary schooling in Florida. That law went into effect Tuesday.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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22 Responses for “Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio, “Undocumented” Immigrant, Earns Florida Bar Recommendation To Be an Attorney”

  1. Outsider says:

    Well, so much for using “They’re just doing the jobs Americans won’t do” excuse to justify illegal immigration. I guess there are no Americans who want to be lawyers anymore.

    • Carl says:

      Good now he understands what coming to this country legally means and can take his butt back to Mexico and file the proper paper work!!!

  2. confidential says:

    Congratulations to Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio for his outstanding achievements! Exemplary immigrant
    that deserved the realization of his dream.
    Good decision by Rick Scott and the legislature for these children after their lives were spent studying to chieve top marks and only knew the USA.

  3. A.S.F. says:

    I guess we should just let any yo-yo with a chip on his/her shoulder dictate what dreams may inspire other people, who just happen to have more on the ball than they do. There aren’t many Americans who don’t have roots in immigrants somewhere or other in their family tree….so, no need for most of us to feel so superior and entitled.

    • Outsider says:

      Nice job at skirting the issue; I wonder how some people can possibly know, without ever meeting someone, how much he/she may have on the ball, whether he or she simply has a chip on his/her shoulder or simply believes in enforcing the law. Maybe one is confused as to the ever changing justification for breaking the law.

    • Observant says:

      Racism is still alive today—-and like A.S.F. said, just about everyone has roots in other countries. There shouldn’t be a sense of entitlement all because their family came across years ago. This man obviously bettered himself. He isn’t using this country to get ahead in the drug trade or anything similar. Further, a legal education is not very cheap, nor can anyone become an attorney. Receiving any kind of doctorate is a very prestigious accomplishment. IMO he should be allowed to practice.

      I often wonder if it’s because he is Mexican, that there is such a strong disapproval. If he was Canadian, or Russian, or Italian would this same argument occur? Perhaps OTHERS are simply jealous that they cannot obtain such a degree.

    • Carl says:

      I know my parents , my grand parents and great grand parents and me have paid taxes , and earned our SS that`s what I know

  4. NortonSmitty says:

    OK, I’m not one to bash the Mexican workers who come here. I see them on job sites and they work hard and show every day. Hell, every restaurant from fancy French to local Italian would be forced to close if you took the Mexicans out of their kitchens. I don’t have a shirt that says “Welcome to the USA. Now speak English!”. But I’d wear one that said “Welcome to the USA, Now don’t work for less than $15 an hour!” if they gave me one.
    That’s why the Republicans (and some Yellow Dog Dems) never quite seem to get around to either deportations in any significant numbers or give them a legal work status. It about destroys the value of labor for all of us to keep them here and powerless, no matter what they say. It’s working too well for their Bosses and donors on Wall Street and Main Street to change now.. If it weren’t for the competition from Mexican labor they might have to pay the native Proles a living wage, and they sure don’t want that. And they perform good honest work that in the end benefits all of us.

    But if your saying this guy is going to come here and be another Lawyer like it’s a good thing, give me the post hole digger and point the way to Arizona!

    Seriously Jose, congratulations on your achievements against some very long odds. The Bar I hear is a real bitch, but the initiation rituals into The Legal Coven had to be worse. I hear the Empathy Suppression Seminar is a real bear. Did the Heartectomy hurt much? And did they cut off your tail like they do for the other American Initiates? You can tell me the true answers in about 50 years and I’ll give you a guided tour around Hell. I should know my way pretty well by then.

    In the mean time good luck with your new career!

  5. confidential says:

    Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio congratulations for his outstanding achievements! Exemplary immigrant
    that deserved the realization of his dream.
    Good decision by Rick Scott and the legislature for these children after their lives were spent studying to achieve top marks in school and they resided most of their lives in the USA.

  6. Deborah says:

    Why doesn’t he just become a US citizen to the country that allowed his dreams to come true?

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    I always, always enjoy and usually agree with all the comments of Geezer (of his most recent iteration) and Norton Smitty. These guys actually thoroughly read the articles, do their research, think things through analytically, communicate enlightened thoughts and throw in some great humor to boot. If there were awards for comments written on Flaglerlive, they would most certainly get my vote.

    I will echo Norton Smitty’s thoughts by saying that it has for 15+ years been my own observation and opinion that the whole illegal immigration thing boils down to this:

    1. Many businesses and wealthy people want and have created a subservient (AKA cheap/”under the table” cash paid) work force. They DO NOT want to pay LEGALLY REQUIRED minimum wages, payroll taxes, or for employee benefits for the people who care for their children, clean their toilets, cut their grass or assemble their widgets, etc. etc.

    2. Not only do they NOT want to pay the costs LEGALLY required for such labor, they also DO NOT want those workers to actually take up space in their “American” lily white world. They do everything possible to with hold any legitimate status/education/social support for those workers which they absolutely want to keep in indentured servitude. I have wondered. . . Are they so personally insecure that having an underclass somehow makes them feel elevated and better about themselves?

    My conclusion is that we cannot have it both ways. It is impossible and illegal to continue to have an underclass of illegally paid workers and just expect them to disappear (“swim back across the Rio Grande or go back to Africa”) when their work day is finished.

    Saying that, in this particular case, I would like to know why Mr. Godinez-Samperio has not, after all these years, applied for and received legal citizenship of the USA.

    • JG says:

      He can’t become a citizen because he is here illegally–check out the citizenship application on the INS website.

  8. confidential says:

    Because he can apply one million times and will be denied…that is why Jose Samperio is not a citizen… Our different administrations bring hundreds of thousands of political refugees with all expenses paid and no screening health or criminal at all and we are forced to sustain them for life if needed and guest what some even end up shooting us here a la Boston Marathon, Virginia Tech and many more killings of Americans by some of these refugees. But God forbid anyone form south of the border will apply for an immigrant visa …is flat right out denied! That is why the come without papers. They are not even accepted as children refugees escaping certain death in their homeland. While those protesting those buses in California forget that they are doing so in the very land that was taken from Mexico around 1850. 1/3 of the USA California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas was taken from those very ancestors of those women and children in those buses blocked by demonstrators who’s ancestors arrived here well after Native Americans and Spaniards. Lets read history. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21595434-old-mexico-lives
    Meanwhile I agree that now the former Mexican territories are in better hands now, still we should show some compassion and understanding with a fair immigration policy and also more trade with those countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras in order to provide jobs there so they do not come here, other than buying all in Asia.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Thanks for that “JG”. . . my point exactly. . . THAT is what needs to change! We have brought or enticed millions of people here to build that subservient underclass. . . and now our Republican politicians are doing everything they can to STOP/SLOW DOWN any kind of immigration reform that would allow those that are already here a path to applying for and eventually becoming citizens.

    Several proposals have been put before Congress and little is happening. That under class is caught between a rock and a hard place. Those that want “cheap” labor absolutely want them here, but those same forces are doing everything they can to stop them from becoming citizens. OH OH. . . then the “cheap” labor would disappear!!! We can’t have that!!!

    It should be unacceptable to every human being that other humans are, at a minimum, being used as political pawns to maximize business and personal profits.

  10. ⓖⓔⓔⓩⓔⓡ says:

    Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio can teach a lot of so-called Americans a lesson.
    Here’s a 9-year-old boy, who became an eagle scout, who applied himself in school
    and finds himself as a young man – on the precipice of becoming an attorney.
    This young man didn’t waste time complaining of difficulties with racism, poverty,
    and doesn’t possess that ubiquitous all-American attitude of entitlement.

    This young man EARNED his ticket to be in this country. So don’t criticize or attack him.
    Fact is that many American-born young people are LAZY, and have no ambition.
    Let’s deport those people before you dare besmirch this exemplary young man’s noteworthy accomplishments.
    Unless of course, you’re green with envy for yourself or your kids.

    Heck, let’s import some more hard-working ambitious people like Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio.
    We aren’t producing enough citizens of his caliber. There’s an influx our that our morally
    and intellectually under-served nation can benefit from.

    CONGRATULATIONS YOUNG MAN! ¡BRAVISIMO!

    All you xenophobes: chomp on that with your “freedom fries.”

  11. confidential says:

    Thank you Sherrey Epley and Geezer. Citizens like you is the only reason that makes our USA #1, still!!

  12. Bill says:

    The GOP do not care about the destruction illegal emigration is doing as it aids its business donors. The dems do not care as they see them as those who will be in need of government hand outs and they are the party that will get them those in exchange for their votes. So that puts the legal immigrant’s and all of us born here between a rock and a hard place. This illegal immigrant invasion keeps wages low for ALL and increases taxes and debt for those who pay them.

  13. Sherry Epley says:

    HUH? The logic of the comment that the Democrats want immigrants to remain “illegal” to get their vote make no sense at all. . . “illegal” immigrants cannot vote in the USA.

    Unless your ancestors were native Americans (not from some other country), we are ALL immigrants.

    • Carl says:

      @Sherry once three or four generations of your family have lived , worked and paid taxes in this country and you your parents and grand parents were born in this country , you are no longer an immigrant, but when you swim across the Rio Grande and take American jobs for half the pay and you knock Maria up and get on the Gov teat, your ass needs to go , its disgusting whats going on here , people that worked here their whole lives paying taxes did not take classes like these illegals on how to use the system , and by the time they find out how to get benefits they paid for their whole lives they are told sorry our fiscal budget is full , and if your not in social services office three weeks before they get new influx of money for the new year , these illegals will beat you to the punch again , its a slaop in every hard working Americans face that they aren t taught how to work the system because they were busy working and paying taxes , yet all the help goes out to border jumpers and ghetto baby makers who are taught exactly how and when to start sucking on lady liberties teat

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    So very glad to see that I am making an impression! LOL!

    Not to confuse any FOX lover with facts, this from rationalwiki.org:

    The MYTHS-

    1. Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes- (WRONG)
    All immigrants pay taxes whether they are illegal or not. They pay them in the forms of: property tax (directly if they own a home, or indirectly if they rent); sales tax on all the goods they buy; and income tax at Federal, State and local level — if their employment is properly recorded and tax deductions administered by their employer. However, since illegal immigrants do not have work permits and cannot legally be employed, they are often employed “off the books” in casual or seasonal work by less scrupulous employers who pay in cash and don’t deduct taxes.

    Since illegal immigrants often have fake or stolen documents, including fake and stolen Social Security numbers, the money they pay into the system is money that will never be withdrawn. The amount in question is evidenced by the Social Security Administration’s “suspense file” (taxes that cannot be matched to workers’ names and Social Security numbers), which grew $20 billion between 1990 and 1998.
    Still, the true owners of the Social Security numbers are often targeted by the IRS for failure to pay taxes, resulting in real victimization of legal residents.

    2. Immigrants come here to get “welfare”- (WRONG)
    Immigrants come to work and to reunite with family members. Immigrant labor-force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%).

    Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S., unless the “study” was undertaken by an anti-immigrant group. In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.

    3. Since the welfare reform of 1996, when limits were implemented cutting off benefits to two years consecutively or five years cumulatively, this is a bogus accusation.

    To immigrate into the US, you must have a sponsor (generally the family member, such as the spouse, bringing you into the country) who will testify that he or she has enough money to support you, if you are unable to support yourself, or if you lose your job. This agreement means that within the first 5 years of living in the US, you cannot take welfare. Your family member will be assessed a penalty if you demand it.

  15. happening now says:

    Yes, maybe this will open some eyes for his homeland. I cannot understand why 30,000 -90,000 children being forced from their homes because of drug lords. Why does the government turn a blind eye ??? Their “government” doesn’t care as long as the rich are getting richer, at the expense of the children. Why do we tolerate this.? High crimes for child abuse…..

  16. A.S.F. says:

    …YEAH, and after those dark dirty illegals get through with “sucking on Lady Liberty’s teat” they can get back to work and mow my lawn!

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