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Senate approves bill to let court admit noncitizen to the Florida bar

 A closely-divided Florida Senate on Thursday championed the landmark case of Jose Godinez-Samperio, of Largo, who can’t practice law in Florida because he’s not a U.S. citizen.

On a voice vote — hours after senators rejected the idea on a 19-18 vote — a narrow majority of 14 Democrats and seven Republicans agreed to an amendment that allows the Florida Supreme Court to admit Godinez-Samperio to the Bar after he passes admission hurdles.

“We’re going to right an injustice,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. “He was not responsible for being here.”

The unrecorded voice vote added the provision to a routine courts bill (HB 755), and still requires House passage and Gov. Rick Scott’s approval. Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has said he would like to find a way to help the would-be lawyer, a graduate of Florida State University law school.

Scott said in a statement that “this case demonstrates how broken our federal immigration laws are,” but did not say whether he would sign the bill.

Godinez-Samperio, 27, was born in Mexico and came to the United States with his parents when he was 9. He was valedictorian at Armwood High in Tampa, an Eagle Scout and honors student. He has a work permit, a Social Security card and a Florida driver’s license. He is here legally, though temporarily, under President Barack Obama’s 2012 deferred action program. And he has passed the bar exam and its moral character test.

But last month, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that he can’t practice law unless the Legislature intervenes and makes a special exception. Story here. 

 

 

Comments

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ed jenkins

The citizens want this admitted law breaker to face the consequences of his lawlessness and return to where he belongs.

Fire

He was 9 when his parents brought him here illegally, that's 18 years. Why didn't his parents register to become citizens? Obama gave the 1/2 amnesty to those children who ended here by their parents, was that with congressional approval? This article is written with bias. His parents are where now? Why can't they be picked up and deported? Sleep well Florida law makers, now how about some news that is not bending the law for certain individuals.

George Blumel

We were once a country of laws; we once had an immigration system that worked. Applications were made, sponsors signed for the immigrant, they went through classes to learn about the Republic and the rights and duties of citizenship. At times certain skills are needed more than others so a system of making citizenship decisions based on the needed skills make sense.

We need engineers not lawyers! This case would make more sense if the man was a welder or dr. or other positive contributor to society. But we already have far too many lawyers (look in your Yellow Pages). Excess of lawyers are a serious drag on the ecoGeorgenomy.

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