There’s an interesting story developing in Florida in which an undocumented man, allowed to remain in the country thanks to Obama’s latest deportation policy change, wants to become a practicing lawyer.
Jose Godinez-Samperio has already received his law degree from Florida State University and passed the state bar exam, but the Florida Board of Bar Examiners refused to admit him before they received an advisory opinion from the state’s supreme court on whether undocumented immigrants are allowed to practice law.
I’m no lawyer, and therefore don’t know of any precedents relating to the case, but the situation appears to be a complicated one if you approach it from a purely fundamental standpoint.
Here we have a young man, 25, who was brought here when he was 9 years old, who has a law degree from a state university, has passed the state bar exam, and now wants to practice law under the same provisions granted by the Obama administration allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and find work.
I would think that any person who’s allowed to stay and work in this country should be allowed to work in the field they were trained in. Becoming a lawyer, however, gives a person a certain status that an undocumented person, who’s technically here “unlawfully,” likely should not have.
Anyone who knows me or knows my work understands that there is no greater advocate of the DREAM Act and no greater supporter of DREAMers than I. Still, allowing people who are in the country unlawfully to practice law strikes me as playing a bit too fast and loose with the law. If an undocumented person can practice law, then it should mean that they can also practice medicine, become a certified public accountant, and whatnot; and yet, at the same time, such persons can’t even apply for a driver’s license in most states, buy car insurance, establish credit, apply for a loan, travel abroad, rent an apartment in their own name, and so many other things.
It all adds up to a confusing mess. Either we don’t allow undocumented immigrants the right to practice law and medicine in the United States, or we allow them to do all the things I’ve listed above — practically granting them a status on par with permanent residency.
And if we allow them to do all those other things, then where will be the downside of unlawful presence? Not being able to vote?
Most Latinos don’t vote as it is.