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Florida man's law license in limbo because of immigration status

There is no doubting how much respect Jose Godinez-Samperio has for the law.  After graduating from Florida State University's law school and passing the Florida bar exam, it's fairly obvious to most that he wants to uphold the legal system to the best of his ability.

But because of his citizenship is in question, the 25-year-old is finding that the very system he wants to protect may be his biggest brick wall.  In a verdict handed down from the Florida Supreme Court in early April, until the White House makes a decision about immigration reform, Godinez-Samperio must wait for approval to receive his license to practice law.

His story began when his parents brought him to the United States when he was nine on a visitor's visa. His parents overstayed their visa and never went back to their home country of Mexico. Now considered to be among the 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Godinez-Samperio had little problem until 2012 when the Board of Bar Examiners asked the Florida Supreme Court for guidance on whether to grant the man his legal license.

While the Board of Bar Examiners in Florida saw no reason to deny the man his license, his immigration status called into question the ethics of allowing someone to practice law when they themselves appear to be violating the law. The Florida Supreme Court was just as torn, which is why they announced last month that they would hold off on their decision until the federal government acted on its promises of immigration reform.

The hope for most people is that after the new legislation is passed, the state will grant Godinez-Samperio a work permit which will allow him to gain his license and practice law, during which time he may apply for permanent citizenship. It's a waiting game most hope will end happily for the Florida man.

Source: CBS News, "Florida Supreme Court denies law license to illegal immigrant," The Associated Press, April 5, 2013

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