The Florida Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously Thursday that Tampa Immigrant Jose Godinez-Samperio, in the country illegally, may not be licensed to practice law in the state. Godinez-Samperio is a 26-year-old man who arrived to the US at age 9 and grew up in the Tampa area despite the expiration of his tourist visas. Godinez-Samperio attended New College of Florida and later obtained a law degree from Florida State University where he graduated with honors. Upon graduation from law school he passed both the bar exam and moral and character test. Currently, Jose is not a US citizen [Tampa Bay Times] and remains within the country under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [IE backgrounder] status. The Florida Supreme Court answered the Florida Bar's question in regards to Godinez-Samperio's situation by enforcing Title 8 of the US Code [text], which prohibits all immigrants from obtaining a professional license within any state.
Immigration laws [JURIST backgrounder] have became a hot button issue over the past few years, particularly concerning young adults who were brought to the country illegally by their parents. In January the California Supreme Court ruled that an immigrant in the country illegally could be admitted to the state bar. Last month Washington state legislators approved a bill [JURIST report] to make college students who were brought to the US illegally by their parents eligible for need-based college financial aid. In December New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that would allow undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition rates to attend state colleges. Obama signed the DACA memorandum [JURIST report] in July 2012.