Feds argue immigrant shouldn't get law license
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida's man bid to obtain a law license despite questions about his immigration status could be coming to an end.
The U.S. Department of Justice this week filed a legal brief arguing that the state should deny a law license to anyone who enters or remains in the country without legal permission.
Attorneys for the federal government made the filing at the request of the Florida Supreme Court. Justices last month asked whether or not federal law precludes the court's admission of an undocumented immigrant to the Florida Bar.
The court's review was requested by Jose Godinez-Samperio. He came to the U.S. with his parents on visitors' visas when he was 9 years old, but the family never returned to Mexico.
He graduated from New College in Florida, earned a law degree from Florida State University and already has passed the Florida bar examination.
In its filing, attorneys for the federal government argued that professional licenses constitute a public benefit that U.S. law prohibits to someone who has entered the country illegally.
Last October, former American Bar Association president Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte - who represents Godinez-Samperio and taught him when he was a law student - argued the federal law doesn't apply because the Florida Supreme Court is not an "agency." He also argued the states have a constitutional right to decide who practices law in their courts.