The Florida Senate took a step today toward allowing the state Supreme Court discretion in admitting undocumented immigrants to practice law. The vote to approve an amendment doing so comes after the Supreme Court recently denied an undocumented student admission to the bar. But in his written opinion, Justice Jorge Labarga urged the Legislature to act.
During a passionate floor debate, Sen. Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) said the law student’s story changed how he thinks about immigrants.
“I heard a saying one time a long time ago: “You know, a wise man can change his mind, but a fool never does," he said. "We need to support this young man.”
The bill as amended would allow the Supreme Court to allow undocumented students a law license as long as they meet all other Bar admission requirements and have lived in the state for at least ten years.
Federal law allows state Legislatures some leeway when it comes to giving undocumented immigrants rights and privileges like professional licenses.
Some senators suggested adding a requirement for students to apply for citizenship. The bill goes now to a final vote in the Senate.