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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

May 16, 2019
Washington, D.C.—In response to President Trump’s speech on immigration, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:  In today's speech on immigration, President Trump...
April 30, 2019
Washington, D.C.—In response to last night’s memorandum from President Trump that outlines steps that would drastically undermine the asylum system, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued the...
April 17, 2019
New York City—In response to Attorney General Barr’s decision attempting to strip refugees of bond hearings, thereby holding them in detention indefinitely, Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer issued...
April 10, 2019
Anti-refugee rhetoric and policies have characterized the Trump presidency. Now, as he transitions to campaign mode ahead of the 2020 election, he’s doubling-down. Earlier this month, we learned...