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Olga Byrne

Senior Researcher and Advocate, Refugee Protection

As Senior Researcher and Advocate in Refugee Protection, Olga Byrne conducts research relating to the protection of refugees, U.S. asylum law, policies, and practices, and the human rights of individuals held in immigration detention.

Olga has over 10 years of experience working in research and policy advocacy, legal services, and program development on issues affecting the human rights of immigrants and refugees, particularly children, families, and individuals in detention. She is called upon frequently as an expert on “children on the move” and teaches a course on child migration at Fordham University School of Law.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Olga directed a program at the Fordham Law School Feerick Center for Social Justice aimed at improving state and local policies affecting immigrant children, and also taught a course on migration policy affecting children and families. Previously, Olga was a 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright-Schuman Scholar, researching European policy trends toward migrant children. She has provided consulting services to international and domestic NGOs conducting research, developing performance metrics, and developing program plans. From 2006 to 2011, Olga worked on national programs at the Vera Institute of Justice designed to improve access to legal services for immigrants in removal proceedings. Olga has also worked in legal services, representing victims of domestic violence at University Settlement Society, as well as a litigation associate at the law firm of Thelen, Reid & Priest in New York.

Olga is a graduate of Cornell University and Fordham Law School. She chairs the subcommittee on Children and Youth of the NYC Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration and Nationality, and is an Advisory Board member of the Local Human Rights Lawyering Project at American University Washington College of Law.

Featured Work

February 27, 2018
Every year, the U.S. government locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants despite the existence of effective—and cost-effective—alternative-to-detention programs. Detention itself can be...
February 23, 2018
This piece was originally published on Medium. Last week, Congress failed, yet again, to secure a legislative compromise that would provide legal status to thousands of young people at...
February 09, 2018
Myth: It’s easy to get asylum in the United States.  Fact: Asylum is an extremely complex and difficult process to navigate. The asylum process is a multi-step process that involves...
February 09, 2018
In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, creating an expedited removal process in which immigration officers are able to order the deportation of...