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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

July 02, 2019
New York City—In response to the release of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention in Rio Grande...
July 01, 2019
Download The Trump Administration is pursuing an agreement with Guatemala under which the United States would turn away asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador and other countries, and send them...
June 23, 2019
New York City—In response to the Trump Administration’s mistreatment of refugee children at the southern border, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement: The Trump...
June 20, 2019
  New York City—In honor of World Refugee Day, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer released the following statement: As we celebrate the bravery and resilience of refugees around the world,...