Jose Manuel Godinez Samperio was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico, but immigrated with his parents to the U.S. at the age of 9.
Jose Manuel became undocumented months later when his B1/B2 non-immigrant status expired. Growing up undocumented, Jose Manuel learned firsthand the plight of immigrants. Despite his lack of immigration status, Jose Manuel graduated from New College of Florida in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. That same year, he began his studies at Florida State University College of Law. In 2011, Jose Manuel obtained his Juris Doctorate in Law while undocumented. Jose Manuel began his application for admission to the Florida Bar, but faced several obstacles due to being undocumented. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners requested an advisory opinion from the Florida Supreme Court because it was the first time an undocumented immigrant had graduated from law school and sought admission to the Florida Bar. While the case was pending before the Florida Supreme Court, Jose Manuel obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and was able to work legally for the first time. However, the Florida Supreme Court determined that it was up to the Florida Legislature to allow Jose Manuel to become an attorney.