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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

October 01, 2019
In September 2019, the Trump Administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico, which it farcically refers to as the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), entered a new phase. The...
September 20, 2019
New York City—In response to reports that the United States and El Salvador entering into a “safe third country” or similar “asylum cooperation” agreement in the coming days...
September 17, 2019
Download Trump Administration Delivers Asylum Seekers to Grave Danger in Mexico: 200+ Publicly Reported Cases of Rape, Kidnapping, and Assault Just the Tip of the Iceberg Since January 2019,...
September 13, 2019
Download The Trump Administration’s third-country transit asylum bar, issued as an interim final rule on July 16, 2019, effectively bans asylum for the vast majority of refugees seeking protection...