Published October 02, 2012
The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on whether an illegal immigrant can be granted a law license, with most of the justices appearing skeptical about such a decision.
The case was brought before the court by the state’s Board of Bar Examiners, which has asked the court for an opinion on whether to grant a license to Jose Godinez-Samperio.
Godinez-Samperio came from Mexico to the United States as a child with his parents, who had a tourist visa that has long since expired.
He’s arguing that he should be granted a law license under President Obama’s directive this summer that suspends deportation for young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. under similar circumstances.
The directive also grants successful applicants a temporary work permit but does not provide a path to citizenship.
It is one of a few cases across the country. Illegal immigrants are also trying to practice law in New York and California.
Godinez-Samperio's lawyer, Sandy D'Alemberte, thinks his client “falls squarely under this rule."
“Jose has complied with every valid rule for admission to the Florida Bar. There is no rule in place that blocks his admission right now," he told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel last month.
Justice Barbara Pariente noted the policy likely would change if Obama loses in November.
The groups Americans for Legal Immigration and Judicial Watch recently said that if Godinez-Samperio was granted the license, he still could not earn a living legally in the U.S., according to the newspaper.
Godinez-Samperio would most likely have been granted the law license under the so-called DREAM Act, which stalled in Congress but would have provided a path to citizenship for young people whose parents either entered the country illegally or stayed on expired documents.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.