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Eleanor Acer

Senior Director, Refugee Protection

As the director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program, Eleanor Acer oversees Human Rights First’s pro bono representation program and advocacy on issues relating to refugee protection, asylum, and migrants’ rights. Under Eleanor’s leadership, Human Rights First partners with volunteer attorneys in the United States to obtain asylum for more than 90% of its refugee clients. Eleanor advocates, speaks and writes regularly on issues relating to the human rights of refugees and migrants, including legal representation, detention, U.S. asylum law and policy and protection from xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. She has authored numerous reports and articles, and has testified before the U.S. Congress.

Eleanor was awarded the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award for Public Service by Fordham University School of Law in 2007. She was selected by the American Bar Association to serve on its Commission on Immigration, and serves on the Advisory Board of the International Detention Coalition. She was also vice chair of the Refugee Council USA from 2006 to 2008. She has taught classes on refugee protection and migrants rights as an adjunct professor at the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs.

Before coming to Human Rights First, Eleanor was an associate handling federal litigation at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP. She has coordinated mentoring programs and has served on the International Human Rights Committee and Immigration Committee of the Association of the Bar of New York, as well as the Board of Advisors to the Crowley Program in International Human Rights at Fordham University School of Law. Eleanor received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and her B.A. in History from Brown University.

June 24, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First said that today’s proposed reforms to the family detention system announced by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson are an important step,...
June 20, 2015
New York City—To mark World Refugee Day, Human Rights First calls the Obama Administration to uphold the United States’ commitment to protecting the persecuted by ending the detention of women and...
June 17, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised the Senate Appropriations Committee for joining House appropriators in supporting an increase in immigration judges and support staff for fiscal year...