Immigrant passes Florida Bar exam, but can he practice as a lawyer?

The case of Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio has once again highlighted ambiguities within U.S immigration law. The 26 year old from Florida is attempting to begin a legal career, recently passing his bar exam but coming across a stumbling block – whether undocumented immigrants should be allowed to legally practice law in Florida.

Godinez-Samperio arrived in the U.S. from Mexico with his parents aged just 9, the family came to the U.S on visitors’ visas. His family decided not to return to Mexico, Godinez-Samperio consequently graduated from both College and later University with a law degree, he also passed the state bar exam last year. Although technically he is at an academic stage to become a lawyer, he is not a U.S citizen and therefore the Florida Supreme Court is left to contemplate whether or not the undocumented immigrant is able to continue practicing law in Florida.

Godinez-Samperio is attempting to begin his legal career by relying in part on a June order by President Obama. This directive was put in place to protect immigrant’s aged 30 and under, providing exception from deportation and offering temporary work permits. However, this rule does not provide a path to citizenship.

It was argued in the high court that Godinez-Samperio has stuck to all the rules of the state and that this made him a good example of what the people would want to see in a lawyer. Nevertheless the application of Godinez-Samperio is yet to be approved and he will have to wait to see what the court decides.