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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

March 17, 2020
NEW YORK – Calling on governors and state health officials to use their authority to act in the interest of public health and protect immigration detainees, Human Rights First, Amnesty International...
March 17, 2020
WASHINGTON – In response to reports that the Trump Administration plans to shut the border to asylum-seekers, citing risks from coronavirus, Human Rights First’s Director of Refugee Protection...
March 11, 2020
The order today stays a prior appellate court ruling that would have prevented the administration from continuing to return asylum-seekers to Mexico while they await their asylum hearings...
March 10, 2020
On March 6, 2020, as the Trump administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to freeze a February 28 ruling halting its forced return of asylum seekers to Mexico, government officials announced the...