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Undocumented lawyer-to-be invited to State of the Union address by Rep. Kathy Castor

State of the Union audience

Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov

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.”

US Rep Kathy Castor invites Godinez Sampiero to SOTU Feb 2013

Source: http://castor.house.gov/

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.’”

Read the full press release from Rep. Castor’s office here.

Marvin is free and will spend Father’s Day with his family!

Many undocumented parents will still spend Father’s Day in detention due to the Administration’s Broken Promises

Today Marvin Corado, an undocumented immigrant originally from Guatemala, was finally released after being detained for more than six months at a private immigrant detention center for only driving without a driver’s license. Marvin will be able to spend Father’s Day with his wife and his 5 year old daughter who is a U.S. citizen, while hundreds continue unnecessarily separated from their families due to the Administration’s failure to stop the detention and deportation of immigrants.

A national report “Restore the Promise of Prosecutorial Discretion” (Exec Summary attached) released earlier this week, outlines several shocking statistics about the scale of the failure of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) implementation of Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) one year after it was announced. In June 2011, DHS announced a new policy that was supposed to focus immigration enforcement on the “worst of the worst” and spare individuals who have been in the U.S. for years, raising families. However, only 1.5% of the 300,000 cases reviewed were closed and Prosecutorial Discretion has been poorly utilized to release fathers, mothers and DREAM Act-eligible students.

According to the report, “DHS is threatening to undermine the credibility of President Obama’s policies and standing with Latino and immigrant communities nationwide”.

Marvin’s case was featured in the report as a clear example of broken promises. Marvin came to the United States 12 years ago, is a father of a U.S. citizen, has no criminal record and was detained only for not having an ID. All these characteristics made him eligible for Prosecutorial Discretion. However, deportation officers tried several times to deport him, including the day before he was released.

As a ‘low priority’ immigrant, Marvin should not have even been detained in the first place. This is a clear cut example as to why ICE’s cosmetic changes to immigration policy have failed, and continue to fail our communities,” says Juan Escalante from Dream Activist Florida, who supported Marvin’s family and created an online petition to stop his deportation. “Cases like Marvin continue to be taken on by In-Secure Communities. We’ll continue to fight on behalf of people like him until President Obama and his administration makes considerable changes to the current immigration policies.”

Leslie Corado, Marvin’s wife, an undocumented immigrant herself, put away her fear and worked relentlessly to have her husband back home.  As she waits for Marvin to get out of the detention center, she says:  “I feel like a part of my heart came back to my life. It’s been 8 months without seeing him, this is the best thing that could happen today. My daughter cannot believe it, she is very excited. Thank you all for your help and I invite all families to fight. Yes, we can!