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Eleanor Acer

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.

April 24, 2015
Thousands of the mothers and children who fled persecution and violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala will spend this Mother’s Day in U.S. immigration detention.  The Obama...
April 23, 2015
New York City – Following today’s meeting of European Union Leaders in Brussels to discuss a coordinated response to the migrant and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, Human Rights First urged...
April 21, 2015
Washington, D.C.—As Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the 45th Annual Conference on the Americas this morning, Human Rights First urges him to address how the Obama Administration can better...