A. Michelle Abarca, Esq.
A. Michelle Abarca is a Program Director of AI Justice’s Children’s Legal Project. Michelle represents detained and non-detained immigrant children in immigration court and before the Department of Homeland Security. She advocates locally and nationally for improvements in the care of these children and has been invited to share her expertise at numerous national conferences. Born in Nicaragua and raised in Costa Rica, Michelle graduated from Northwestern University School of Law, in Chicago, Illinois.
Lana Chiariello, Esq.
Lana joined AI Justice in 2011 as the Director of Litigation. Lana’s longstanding commitment to public-interest advocacy provided her with significant experience working with vulnerable populations, including immigrants, foster children, incarcerated individuals, and victims of domestic violence. She spent the beginning of her career as an associate in two international law firms, doing both litigation and pro bono work, before completing two years in judicial clerkships. In 2006, Lana took a break from the practice of law to backpack solo around the globe and travelled to 47 countries. That experience strengthened Lana’s commitment to pursuing public interest work full-time and in 2008, she joined the non-profit Kids In Need of Defense.
Lana received her law degree with honors from Boston University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida. Like many Americans, Lana comes from a family of immigrants who traveled through Ellis Island and elsewhere to realize the American Dream.
Nancy Francillon, Esq.
Nancy has been with Americans for Immigrant Justice since 2010 and serves as Supervising Attorney in the Immigration and the Lucha/Nou Kab Programs. Her fluency in Creole and French and her interest in her native Haiti influence her work as the organization’s advocate for Haitian Immigrants. Nancy has extensive experience in immigration law, having worked at the law firm of Glantz and Glantz and Haitian Women of Miami, Inc. before opening her own practice in 2006.
Nancy earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Pace University in New York and received her J.D. from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 1993. She received a UF Humanitarian Service Award for her coordination of a program that sent students to Haitian Refugee Centers to prepare asylum applications for Haitian refugees who immigrated to Florida in 1992. Nancy is admitted to the Florida Bar and the Federal Bar Southern District of Florida.
Losmin Jimenez, Esq.
Losmin joined AI Justice in 2012 as a Litigation Attorney. Losmin came to AI Justice after working as a Staff Attorney and Pro Bono Coordinator at a legal services program in North Central Florida. She began her professional career in the field of financial services. However, she answered the call to public interest law and considers it her life’s purpose. As a lawyer, Losmin considers it a privilege to represent individuals who are often ignored by society, such as developmentally disabled persons, domestic violence victims, immigrants, and children.
Losmin received her law degree with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. She also has a Master of Science in European Politics and Policy from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Relations from Boston University. Losmin was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and moved with her family to the mainland United States at eight-years-old. She is fluent in Spanish and German.
Losmin is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), and an active member of her church. She was recently appointed to serve on the Legal Needs of Children Committee for The Florida Bar. Her term will begin July 2012.
Romy Lerner, Esq.
Romy joined AI Justice in May 2005 and is currently supervises the organization’s Detention Program. She previously worked as an associate for the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York. Romy received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Columbia University and received her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 2002.
While in law school, she interned with the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, spent a summer working for the Legal Aid Society, Federal Defender Division in New York City, and ran Columbia’s Domestic Violence Project. In February 2006, she resigned from AI Justice (then FIAC) to accept a Fulbright Fellowship to work on immigration issues in Argentina. She returned to AI Justice in January 2007. The fist member of her family to be born in the United States, Romy is fluent in Spanish and a member of the New York bar.
Michelle Ortiz, Esq.
Michelle Ortiz is Director of the Lucha Project and represents survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She has presented at numerous conferences and provided numerous trainings on immigration relief available to victims of violent crime and human trafficking.
Prior to joining AI Justice, Michelle worked at Gulfcoast Legal Services in St. Petersburg, Florida where she represented low-income immigrants, specializing in assisting survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She received her Juris Doctorate from Stetson University and interned with Gulfcoast Legal Service’s Immigration Unit. She was granted two judicial internships with U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich of the Middle District of Florida and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Barry University. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Michelle was born and raised in Miami.
Aidil Oscariz, Esq.
Aidil has been with AI Justice since November 2008. She is an attorney with the Children’s Legal Project and represents unaccompanied immigrant children before the Immigration Court and the Department of Homeland Security. She also assists with AI Justice’s pro bono development efforts. Prior to law school, Aidil worked with at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system through a Florida International University community-based project. She was also the Policy Director at the William C. Velasquez Institute, an advocacy and policy institute which conducts research aimed at increasing the civic and economic participation of Latino and other underrepresented groups in the U.S. Aidil authored a book chapter titled “Youth and Charity in a Sweetwater Parish: Our Lady of Divine Providence Church” in the book Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City: Religion, Immigration, and Civic Engagement in Miami.
A first generation Cuban immigrant, Aidil earned her law degree from Fordham University in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Anthropology and Liberal Studies and a Master’s degree in Comparative Sociology from Florida International University (FIU).
Jessica Shulruff, Esq.
Jessica joined AI Justice’s LUCHA Program in September 2011 and represents survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. She speaks at conferences regarding immigration laws and procedures, and provides training and technical assistance to other attorneys. Before working at AI Justice, Jessica worked at Catholic Charities Legal Services of Miami where she provided representation to low-income immigrants and helped spearhead the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians of Unaccompanied Alien Children (LOPC) in South Florida.
The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Jessica received a Juris Doctorate and Masters of Art in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. While there, she externed at the Battered Immigrant Project and interned with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Peru, where she worked with indigenous children in the Peruvian Amazon basin. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and is a member of the Florida Bar.
Raquel Trujillo, Esq.
Raquel is a Staff Attorney with AI Justice’s Children’s Legal Program and joined the team in February 2012. Her practice area of concentration is in juvenile immigration representation and policy advocacy.
Prior to joining AI Justice, Ms. Trujillo practiced juvenile dependency, immigration, and family law as a staff attorney with Florida International University College of Law Clinics. Her advocacy of juvenile immigrants in dependency proceedings with the Immigrant Children’s Justice Clinic adds valued experience to the Children’s Legal Project team. While in law school, Ms. Trujillo participated in the Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, representing immigrants detained at Krome Service Processing Center before U.S. federal immigration court.
Raquel received her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Florida International University and her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar.
Sara Van Hofwegen, Esq.
Sara is a Staff Attorney who joined AI Justice in 2010. She advocates on behalf of immigrant women in detention. In addition to conducting Know Your Rights presentations to detainees, Sara represents victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in a variety of proceedings before the immigration court, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Prior to joining AI Justice, Sara worked as the Irmas Legal Fellow with the Public Counsel Law Center in Los Angeles, California and represented detained immigrants in Southern California.
Sara graduated from the University of Southern California in 2009 where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif and received the Equal Justice Award for public service. At USCIS Immigration Clinic, Sara represented asylum seekers in immigration court. She speaks Spanish and is a member of the California State Bar.
Patricia Elizée, Esq.
Patricia Elizee is a Staff Attorney and a University of Miami School of Law Legal Corp Fellow who joined AI Justice in September of 2011. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she has strong ties to her work representing Haitian immigrant clients in AI Justice’s NOU KAB and Immigration Programs. She received her LLM in Sustainable International Development at the University of Washington School of Law in 2011 and her Juris Doctorate at the University of Miami School of Law in 2010. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree at UM in 2005.
Franco Torres, Esq.
Franco is an Equal Justice Works Fellow who joined AI Justice in September 2011 and is working for the Detention Program. Franco provides free legal services to the male immigration detainees at the Broward Transitional Center located in Pompano Beach, Florida. He also investigates immigration enforcement and detention issues throughout the state of Florida. The son of Puerto Rican migrants, he has presented on topics ranging from immigration law to public interest and social justice issues to career planning advice at many undergraduate, graduate and law schools. He is also fluent in Spanish.
Franco received his Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law where he graduated with honors in a concentration in Litigation and Dispute Resolution and was the recipient of the Warren S. Gilford Humanity and Law Prize. At BU Law, Franco represented immigration detainees through BU Law’s Civil Litigation Clinical Program. He also holds a Master’s degree in Education from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University. Franco is a member of the Florida Bar.
Cory Smith | Office Director
Cory has been a long time advocate for vulnerable populations by protecting human rights, immigrant rights, civil rights and civil liberties through federal legislation, appropriations and executive branch measures. Currently Cory works for the private foundation Humanity United (HU) established by the Omidyars who founded E-bay. HU seeks to end mass atrocities and modern day slavery by investing in NGOs in the U.S. and abroad. Cory served as the Executive Director and Advocacy Director for Enough, a project to end genocide and mass atrocities at the Center for American Progress and was the Deputy Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR), the campaign that led efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. He also served as Legislative Counsel for Human Rights First in Washington, DC and as a Policy Analyst at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coaltion. Cory has written for the Washington Post and appeared in articles in the the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun, and Associated Press among others. Recent publications include the Not on Our Watch Christian Companion, Darfur Catholic Companion and Discussion Guide and Faithful Against Torture. He holds a J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law (2000) is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.