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Home / Biography / Eleanor Acer

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

June 17, 2020
On March 20, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a much-criticized COVID-19 order that has effectively eliminated asylum at the southern U.S. border. The Department of...
June 11, 2020
On June 10, 2020, the Trump Administration proposed an expansive, new regulation that, if implemented, would eviscerate asylum protections for the vast majority of people seeking refugee protection...
June 11, 2020
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have proposed a new rule, slated to be issued on Monday, June 15, which would gut what remains of protection for refugees seeking...
June 01, 2020
February 25: Dr. Allen & Dr. Rich, detention medical experts and consultants to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), warn the agency of public health risks of ICE detention...