Poster Boy

Sarasota Magazine
July 2012

Sometime in June 1996, after spending six months in a trailer near Tampa, nine-year-old José Manuel Godínez Samperio overstayed his tourist visa. … In December 1995, he and his little sister had arrived at Orlando International Airport on a flight from Mexico City, clutching Mexican passports stamped with a U.S. visa that granted them a half-year stay. But the family had more than a six-month visit in mind. They had arrived to start a new life in the United States. … Since his arrival 17 years ago, Godínez has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments. He became an Eagle Scout and high school valedictorian and went on to graduate from Sarasota’s prestigious New College. Last year, he was one of the top students in his graduating class at Florida State University College of Law, then passed the Florida Bar exam on his first try. But instead of beginning his career in law, the serious, intensely self-disciplined young man is now in a state of limbo. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners, which in 2008 began requiring all applicants to be U.S. citizens or have valid immigration status, let him take the exam, anyway. Then, after he passed, they refused to admit him and, anticipating they’ll be facing more of such cases, asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether, as an undocumented immigrant, Godínez can practice law in the state.

One comment

  1. Bill

    If he is here illegally, in my opinion he should be deported. Let him go through the process of becoming a permanent resident or citizen like other legal immigrants. It sounds like he has a lot to contribute to our society and I hope he will do so, but only after he he enters the country and gets a green card legally.

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