José Manuel Godínez Samperio
José Manuel Godínez Samperio (“Manuel”) was born in Pachuca de Soto, Hidalgo, México. At 9 years-old, Manuel immigrated with his parents and sisters to Florida in 1995. Manuel grew up undocumented.
In 2004, Manuel graduated as Valedictorian from Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida, and became an eagle scout with Troop 686 in Brandon, Florida. In 2008, Manuel graduated from New College of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.
Then, Manuel went on to law school at Florida State University College of Law. In May of 2011, Manuel earned the degree of Juris Doctor, despite being undocumented. In July of 2011, Manuel passed the Florida Bar Exam, Florida Board of Bar Examiners was not sure whether it could recommend Manuel for admission to the Florida Bar, because Manuel lacked lawful immigration status. Therefore, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners asked the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion.
In March of 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Manuel could not receive his Florida Bar license, because it was preempted by federal law. However, Justice Jorge Labarga wrote a concurring opinion in which he advised that the Florida legislature could make the necessary changes to allow Manuel to practice. With overwhelming majorities in both chambers, the Florida legislature approved the necessary changes on May 2, 2014. Former Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the bill later that month.
On September 5, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court applied the new law, admitting Manuel to the Florida Bar as the first member without lawful immigration status.
Manuel has been an advocate for immigrant and refugee rights for decades, participating in efforts leading to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in-state tuition for undocumented Florida students, and the ability to practice law for Florida DACA recipients.
Although Manuel is licensed to practice law in Mexico and Florida, his practice focuses solely on U. S. immigration law. He holds Master’s degree in criminal law and criminal sciences from the Autonomous University of the State of Hidalgo. Manuel is a human rights doctoral candidate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, researching the interplay of Mexican criminal law, Mexican family law, and U. S. immigration law. Thus, when complex issues arise involving Mexican convictions or Mexican custody issues affecting U. S. immigration cases, Manuel is the go-to-person.
Currently, Manuel is an associate attorney at Shirazi Immigration Law, Inc.
Fun fact about Manuel: Manuel loves the outdoors and enjoys camping, hiking, and canoeing.