U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor invited Florida’s own Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio to President Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday, February 12. Jose Manuel traveled from central Florida to D.C. today to attend the address as Rep. Castor’s special guest. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it happening,” Jose Manuel said in a telephone call. “This is an historical moment because I don’t know of any other time when undocumented immigrants have been allowed at the State of the Union address.”
Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio made history when he graduated from Florida State University Law School and passed the Florida Bar exam, then solicited admittance to the Florida Bar as an undocumented immigrant. The Florida Bar is now referring the question to the Florida Supreme Court.
Rep. Castor announced her invitation publicly Monday, February 11 at a press event outside the offices of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Tampa, Fla. She posed for photos with Jose Manuel and took questions from reporters. Following the event, Rep. Castor wrote on her Facebook page:
“I am honored to have as my guest for tomorrow’s State of the Union Address, Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio. He graduated valedictorian of his class at Armwood High School and went on to attend Florida State Law School. His story is representative of so many young people in my district and across the nation who deserve Comprehensive Immigration Reform that will permanently create a pathway to citizenship. I will continue to fight to make their dream a reality.”
Rep. Castor is in her fourth term of serving the Tampa Bay area in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I think it is great,” Jose Manuel said about the representative’s endorsement of immigration reform. “We need more people to ‘Say Yes’: we need 216 in the House, 60 in the Senate, and one president to ‘Say Yes.’”