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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 02, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First welcomed today’s call to end the misguided policy of detaining families seeking asylum in the United States.  The call came in a letter from 33...
June 01, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today called for U.S. government agencies to create stronger treaty compliance oversight with respect to U.S. policies relating to asylum seekers, borders,...
May 27, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praised members of the House of Representatives who called on Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson to end the practice of detaining families...