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Refugee Advocate to Receive Prestigious Immigration Law Award

NEW YORK, NY, May 23, 2012 – Michelle Brané, a tireless advocate for the rights of detained migrants and the Director of the Detention and Asylum program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, has been named the winner of the eleventh annual Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law. She will receive the honor on June 13th at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Over a 25-year career, Brané, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School, has become one of the nation’s foremost experts on United States immigration detention and reform. In her current role at the Women’s Refugee Commission, she advocates for the critical protection needs of immigrant women, children and other vulnerable migrant populations in the United States. Brané is frequently called upon by high-level government agencies, including the White House and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, to share her expertise on detention issues and to serve as a sounding board on new policies and practices. A pioneer in the use of research and report writing as an advocacy tool in the immigrant rights community, she has published extensively and appeared before the United States Congress and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

Brané has also played an integral role in the development of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s new Performance-Based National Detention Standards and the forthcoming Risk Classification Assessment. She has been at the forefront of efforts to promote alternatives to detention, co-chairing Detention Watch Network’s Alternatives to Detention action team and providing input to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Presbyterian Church USA as they developed their new community support network.

“Perhaps Michelle’s greatest success is her work to document the abuses occurring in family detention,” said Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women's Refugee Commission. “She was the senior member of the research team that uncovered gross violations of human rights at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas. Michelle co-authored Locking Up Family Values, a 2007 report of the findings that garnered national and international media attention and resulted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement moving all of the families out of Hutto, releasing many of them.”

The award, sponsored by LexisNexis® Matthew Bender®, commemorates the career of Daniel Levy of Los Angeles, a prolific author, litigator, scholar and member of the Editorial Board of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin. He died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 48.


The Women's Refugee Commission advocates for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and young people, including those seeking asylum—bringing about lasting, measurable change. Through research and fact-finding field missions, the Women's Refugee Commission identifies critical problems that affect displaced women, children and young people, including gaps in lifesaving reproductive health care, lack of dignified livelihoods for refugees and, in the U.S., the treatment of asylum-seekers. We document best practices and propose solutions, and develop innovative tools to improve the way humanitarian assistance is delivered in refugee settings. On Capitol Hill, at the United Nations and with humanitarian organizations, governments and donors, we push for improvements in refugee policy and practice until measurable long-term change is realized.