Undocumented immigrant in Tampa invited to the State of the Union address
FSU Law grad entered U.S. illegally at age 9
10:02 PM, Feb 12, 2013
1:56 AM, Feb 13, 2013
TAMPA - During every recent state of the union speech, the President always points out a special person in the audience with a story that illustrates a particular policy or point.
One of those people tonight may be a local man with a story that's being followed across the country and across the border.
We caught up with 26 year old Jose Godinez-Samperio at Tampa International Airport on his way to Washington. While he won't have a speaking role, he'll be listening closely.
"I hope he says I want to say yes to an immigration system, yes to citizenship. I want him to say yes to family unity" said Godinez.
Godinez was invited to the State of the Union address because of his unique situation. Born in Mexico, he came to the U.S. at age 9 on a tourist visa with his family and stayed, joining the ranks of 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Godinez studied hard, graduated from FSU Law School and even passed the Florida Bar exam. But because he's not a citizen, the bar withheld his license and referred his case to the Florida Supreme Court, now considering this simple question.
"Can an undocumented immigrant practice law?"
Godinez says a reasonable immigration policy would make that answer 'yes'. And though he was invited to Washington to sit with Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Tampa, he says both sides of the political aisle have dodged the issue.
"Both parties didn't really want to talk about this issue. Now both parties are constantly coming up with immigration proposals and principles so I think there's a much better chance. But there's still a lot of work to do."