Constitutional Emergency


April 15, 2012|By Rafael A. Olmeda, Sun Sentinel

Can an immigrant without a green card get a Florida Bar card?

Aspiring lawyer Jose Godinez-Samperio, 25, a Tampa-area resident, is hoping the answer is yes.

A native of Mexico who entered the United States legally with his parents 16 years ago on a tourist visa, Godinez-Samperio is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, the valedictorian of the Armwood High School class of 2004, an Eagle Scout — and an undocumented immigrant.

That last quality may keep him from achieving his dream.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which grants membership to the Bar, has asked the state Supreme Court to determine whether it can accept someone who is not in the country legally. The Supreme Court flagged the case as "high profile" last week.

"No one who has shown this guy's level of contempt for American law should be practicing law," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, a political action committee that opposes amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, agreed.

"He can't practice as a lawyer," Fitton said. "He is not legally able to work in the United States. … It seems to me that it would be an absurdity to give him a Bar card at this point."

Neither Fitton nor Gheen was aware of the Florida case before it was flagged as "high profile" last week. Similar applications are pending for students in California and New York.

But Godinez-Samperio, who once described himself as "undocumented, unapologetic and unafraid," has influential allies who believe his immigration status should not keep him from getting a license to practice law, even though federal statutes would forbid him using that license to earn a living.

His attorney and former law professor, Sandy D'Alemberte, is a former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives from Miami, a former president of FSU and a former president of the American Bar Association.

"It is unfair to deny him the credentials he's earned," said D'Alemberte, noting that there's nothing in the "Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Florida Bar" that requires applicants to prove their immigration status.

In fact, D'Alemberte said, Godinez-Samperio has been candid about his status at every opportunity, disclosing it on college and law school applications (his application to law school included an essay titled "The Consequences of my Criminal Childhood," although being in the country illegally is a civil infraction, not a crime).

Immigration advocates have lobbied Congress to pass the Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented children who were brought to this country by their parents and raised in the United States. Congress has yet to pass such a law.

The Board of Bar Examiners began requiring exam-takers to submit proof of immigration status in 2008, but waived that policy for Godinez-Samperio, who disclosed his status and argued that documentation was not required as a rule for admission to the Bar.

There's no way of knowing whether any undocumented immigrant was accepted before 2008, and Godinez-Samperio is the first to apply for membership since.

The distinction between policies and rules goes to the heart of Godinez-Samperio's position, D'Alemberte said. "Rules have to be made by a Florida Supreme Court process," he said. "The Board of Bar Examiners is attempting to adopt a new rule without going through that process, after Jose has already complied with every current rule."

D'Alemberte acknowledged that his client, who stayed with his parents long after their tourist visa expired, is subject to detention and deportation. But he said it is not the Florida Bar's place to enforce federal immigration law. "We have agencies charged with enforcing those laws," he said.

Three other former American Bar Association presidents, two of whom once headed the Florida Bar, are siding with Godinez-Samperio. In a friend-of-the-court brief on his behalf, Tallahassee attorney Martha Barnett, Tampa attorney William Reece Smith Jr., and Miami attorney Stephen Zack (who escaped from Cuba and came to Florida with his family when he was 14), argued that denying Godinez-Samperio's admission would be "a waste of exceptional talent for our profession."

Agreeing with D'Alemberte, they suggested Godinez-Samperio can practice law in Florida if he takes on cases pro-bono.

Godinez-Samperio, who declined to be interviewed for this article, also has the support of his local congresswoman. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, wrote in a letter to the Supreme Court that taxpayers are already investing time and money by educating undocumented students during and after high school. "To deny these students the opportunity to become doctors or lawyers or practice another profession is to deny the state of Florida and all of our neighbors an educated and talented workforce," she wrote., 954-356-4457 or Twitter @SSCourts

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This guy has had amnisty given to him several times . In the last 25 yrs. amnisty has been given 3 times to illegals. It was, according to Pres.Reagan , "a one time thing " to give amnisty . We've given 3 and this dumb sob we call pres. Is working on a forth time. "NO MORE AMNISTY ".

I don't care how "smart" he much family he has here or what "contributions he has made.  Illegal is illegal!  He had all those years to make it right and now has the audacity to apply to the Florida Bar!!!

They (The Bar) has a legal obligation to turn him in to ICE...RIGHT NOW.

I agree. He's had a lot of time to take advantage of our education system. How about learning the history that makes this nation great & applying for legal citizenship?

But ICE refuses to consider being illegal as committing a crime and Justice handed down the policy of ONLY deporting illegals who have committed a crime.  I can't imagine the bar considering it a crime if the Justice Department refuses to.

"...illegals who have committed a crime."


I get your point, though.  If one does not consider trespassing to be a crime, there is no longer any need to call them "illegal" aliens.  The reason that nations enforce their borders and allow only certain people to enter is to protect the nation from harm in the form of disease, discord, cultural dilution, sedition, and reduced opportunities for the native population.  If a nation has convinced itself that is has no good within and is a blight upon the face of the Earth, the people will see no need to regulate immigration because they will believe that there is nothing worth protecting.  Indeed, the people will be taught that importing other, unassimilating cultures can only improve the nation's condition.  (Diversity is our strength!  War is peace!  Freedom is slavery!  Ignorance is...Well, you get it.)

Many of us, of course, believe no such things; but there are many millions of people living in this country who do, and they have been making policy for nearly fifty years.

It's a sad time for America for sure. It seems this cabal has rewrote a verse of America the Beautiful to say:

Oh Beautiful for Undocumented Immigrants feet

Whose sneaky time of stress,

A Garbage Dump of Criminal items has made

Of America's Wilderness!

And they would replace the Pilgrim's Feet with this and call it Progress.

Please Lord, help us in this battle.

"There's no way of knowing whether any undocumented immigrant was accepted before 2008, and Godinez-Samperio is the first to apply for membership since."

So?  I hope that, as lawyers, licensed or not, they are not going to use the "Well, those individuals got away with it, so this individual should, too!" argument if they find a similar case in the archives.  That is tantamount to arguing "My client should not be subject to this statute because several people have previously successfully avoided prosecution for its violation."

Then Castor says, "Well, we're already spending billions of citizens' tax dollars educating these illegals, so we might as well let them work."  What a crock!  "Your honor, my client is licensed as a physician in this state.  He passed his boards two years ago, and he bears an outstanding student-loan balance of nearly $400,000; this loan amount is guaranteed by the taxpayers' dollars.  This burden will fall upon the taxpayers if my client is found guilty of these murders and is incarcerated for life or executed.  I, therefore, request that the charges be dismissed because a conviction will prove to be a greater burden upon society than allowing my client to be freed."

Amazing how the term "undomented immigrant" is used constantly in this article.Ken is absolutely right,

ICE should be shipping his ILLEGAL INVADER ASS back to mexico,and back-charging the mexican

government for the money shelled out,no doubt by American taxpayers,to educate this cretin.


Some of the stuff I'm seeing is so outrageous it's enough to make blood shoot out My eyes!!


For a party (Democrat) who are ALWAYS looking for the "easy fix", it's right in front of them. Go back to Mexico, apply for U.S. Citizenship (ACCORDING TO OUR LAW!), go through the process, take the required classes, and then at the ceremony take the Oath of Citizenship, like my Grandmother did! Then if he wants his Florida Bar Card, by all means give it to him.

But any person who has never played by our rules should NOT be placed in a postition where he can influence our rules!


Better yet, FINE the bastard!

Put him in jail for his crimes!

Maximum sentence!

And file criminal charges against the School where he studied law for having KNOWINGLY allowed an illegal immigrant to benefit from our way of life! 

We'd better work hard to see that b o isn't re-elected, I can see the W H bragging that president obama has put the FIRST ILLEGAL ALIEN ON THE SUPREME COURT!  And, if Harry Reid had his way it would be by a 2/3 majority or higher.

This sort of crap just angers me to no end.  Some months ago I had a conversation with a Lutheran Seminary professor.  He is a German citizen who is here legally.  He has already spent thousands of dollars in working toward his US citizenship and it will cost him thousands more until the process is complete.  And, then we have this dirt bag who has never contributed one damn thing to this country, but he has taken, taken and taken some more from the taxpayers and now he is brazen enough to apply to practice law knowing full well he is an illegal alien.  I would be willing to bet that the Florida Supreme Court will give him the go ahead.  We really need to take back our country and get rid of all of the low lifes who have ruined it.



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