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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

Resource | April 19, 2016
April 04, 2018
Washington, D.C.—In response to President Trump’s plan to send National Guard troops to the border, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer released the following statement: “President Trump is...
April 03, 2018
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today condemned a decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to impose caseload quotas on immigration judges, a move that threatens due process and...
March 29, 2018
New York City—Human Rights First today condemned a policy shift by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it will no longer generally release from detention pregnant women, including those...
March 19, 2018
America as a safe haven: this vision is central to the country’s ideals and identity. And it’s rooted in reality. The United States has a long history of providing refuge to victims of persecution....