Aimee Cernicharo is a human rights attorney who has dedicated her career in law to helping those who have had to flee their native country and seek refuge in the U.S. She says it is her life’s mission, a mission born from her own experience.
“I know what it’s like, what they are going through,” said Cernicharo, an attorney with St. Thomas University.
Cernicharo was 11-months-old when she and her mother fled the communist takeover in her native Cuba, leaving her father behind, unable to leave the island.
She grew up in poverty in Miami, yet went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, study law and eventually work for one of the top law firms in the country. But something was missing.
“I wanted to do more with my life and with the opportunities I have been afforded,’ she said. "What happens to the person who is in a war-torn country due to no fault of their own and finds themselves without a country to call home like what is happening in Syria?”
“We deal with people who have refugee or asylee status and who want to become permanent residents, and we guide them through the daunting legal process. Our ultimate goal is for those who seek our services to acclimate and become United States citizens with all of its rights and privileges,” said Cernicharo.
Her office helps about 200 people a month, and she says she hopes to continue to carry out her mission for many years to come.
"We have a responsibility to help our fellow human beings feel the dignity that is owed to them,” she says.
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