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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 research and advocacy on issues relating to refugee protection, asylum, and migrants’ rights. 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, U.S. global refugee protection and resettlement policies, and protection from xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. She works closely with Human Rights First’s pro bono legal representation team, conducts field research, 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.

Featured Work

May 19, 2020
WASHINGTON - Human Rights First denounced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) indefinite extension today of its much-criticized order that has used the pretext of the pandemic to...
May 13, 2020
The Trump Administration is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to pursue its long-held goal of preventing refugees from seeking and receiving humanitarian protection in the United States. Under...
May 01, 2020
On May 1, 2020, the Trump administration published an agreement signed with Honduras in September 2019, that purports to allow the United States to transfer third-country asylum seekers to Honduras,...
April 30, 2020
WASHINGTON - Today, the Department of Homeland Security published the United States’ “asylum cooperative agreement,” agreement with Honduras - a move that may signal plans to move ahead with the...