Florida Court Skeptical of Granting Law License to Undocumented Immigrant

Jose Godinez-Samperio is fighting to become a practicing lawyer, even though he's undocumented.

But the court that may decide his fate appears skeptical.

The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Godinez-Samperio case and the judges questioned whether he should be granted a law license.

The Board of Bar Examiners asked the state's high court for guidance before deciding.

It is one of a few similar cases across the country. Undocumented immigrants are also trying to practice law in New York and California.

Godinez-Samperio contends President Barack Obama's new policy involving undocumented immigrants gives him the right to practice law.

Justice Barbara Pariente noted the policy likely would change if Obama loses in November.

Obama announced in June that his administration will let undocumented immigrants remain in the United States if they are no older than 30, arrived as children, have no criminal history and graduated from high school or served in the military. Godinez-Samperio is 25.

Godínez-Samperio's parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico on a visitor's visa when he was 9. His parents overstayed their visas and never returned to Mexico. He grew up in rural Hillsborough County. His father, a veterinarian in Mexico, milked cows on a dairy farm. His mother, a dentist, worked at a factory that made sliding glass doors.

Godínez-Samperio graduated from Florida's New College and earned a law degree from Florida State University and passed the bar exam. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, though, declined to admit him, instead asking the justices for an advisory opinion on whether undocumented immigrants can be licensed as lawyers.

Earlier this year, seven U.S. representatives and Puerto Rico's nonvoting resident commissioner joined four former American Bar Association presidents in urging the state Supreme Court to grant Godínez-Samperio a law license.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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