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Immigrant would-be lawyer’s fate now in hands of Fla. House


Published:   |   Updated: April 25, 2014 at 06:51 PM

The Florida Senate has approved a bill that would allow the state’s Supreme Court to issue law licenses to immigrants in the country unlawfully.

The bill passed Friday on a 25-12 vote. It’s a response to a Supreme Court decision last month that said people in the country illegally can’t be issued law licenses.

Among those voting yes were Republicans Garrett Richter of Naples, Tom Lee of Brandon, Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Democrat Arthenia Joyner of Tampa.

Those opposing the bill included Republicans Bill Galvano of Bradenton, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and John Legg of Lutz.

Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican, didn’t record a vote.

The bill heads to the House.

“I think there’s a compelling argument to be made for that young man,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, referring to Jose Godinez-Samperio, a Largo man seeking his license after passing the bar in 2011.

That said, “we never tell members what to do,” Weatherford added.

Godinez-Samperio came to the United States with his parents on tourist visas when he was 9. He remained in the country after the visas expired.

Godinez-Samperio passed the bar exam, but his immigration status kept him from being licensed. The court said the Legislature could pass a law to allow someone in his position to get a license.

UPDATE: Katie Betta, Gaetz’s spokeswoman, said later Friday that “the President voted no after the roll call.”

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