An attorney for a law school graduate asking to be admitted to The Florida Bar as an undocumented immigrant told the state Supreme Court that his federal application for legal residency has been approved.
Citing a policy change announced by President Barack Obama for the children of undocumented immigrants during the presidential campaign, Jose Godinez-Samperio, through his attorney, said he has obtained a work visa, Social Security number and Florida driver’s license.
"Jose is just the kind of person who we should want to practice law in Florida," Talbot "Sandy" D’Alemberte, the law graduate’s appellate attorney and law professor, told the Daily Business Review. "He is smart, hard-working, relentlessly honest. He has proven himself and complied with all existing rules."
When he argued for Godinez-Samperio before the high court Oct. 2, the justices expressed concern that they did not have the authority to defy federal immigration law.
In a filing late Wednesday, D’Alemberte of D’Alemberte & Palmer in Tallahassee advised the court of Godinez-Samperio’s change in status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
"The court is now free to admit the respondent to The Florida Bar, there being no barrier under federal law to his using his bar admission in the practice of law," wrote D’Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association.
Obama’s policy change announced June 15 was a major shift for an administration with the most aggressive deportation program in decades.
With progress in Congress over immigration reform going nowhere and Hispanics playing a key role in Obama’s re-election plans, he signed an executive order providing a path to legal residency for children who were brought to the United States under the age of 16, had no felony or significant misdemeanor offenses and graduated high school or served in the military.
Godinez-Samperio was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was 9. He learned English, graduated as valedictorian from high school, earned an Eagle Scout badge and graduated from New College and then Florida State University College of Law with honors.
He was allowed to take the Bar examination, but a licensing decision was deferred by the state Board of Bar Examiners to the high court when he asked to be admitted.