Women in Nepal

Women's Refugee Commission - Our Staff

Michelle Brané

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Michelle Brané is one of the nation’s foremost experts on US asylum protections and detention policies for migrants. As the Senior Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, she conducts research, develops policy recommendations, and advocates for the critical protection needs of immigrant women, children and other vulnerable migrant populations in the United States.

In addition to frequently writing on key issues concerning immigration detention and reform, she has authored and overseen many of the Women's Refugee Commission’s landmark reports on migration and asylum issues, including Locking Up Family Values, on family detention; Halfway Home, on unaccompanied migrant children; Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America; Prison for Survivors: The Detention of Women Seeking Asylum in the United States; Detained or Deported: What About My Children?, a guide for detained and deported immigrant and undocumented parents; and Betraying Family Values: How Immigration Policy at the United States Border is Separating Families.

Michelle has more than 25 years’ experience working on immigration and human rights issues. As an attorney advisor with the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals, she specialized in asylum cases and assisted in developing relevant regulations and training programs for new staff. As a labor negotiator at the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), she represented Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents among her clients. At Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Michelle developed and coordinated the Detained Torture Survivor Legal Support Network, the Legal Orientation Program and was the Director of the Access to Justice Unit. She has also worked internationally with human rights organizations in India and as a human rights officer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Bosnia, where she also served as the Head of the Sarajevo Field Office.

In her current capacity, Michelle has testified before Congress and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, appears frequently in national and local print and broadcast outlets, and presents regularly as an expert at conferences, briefings, and professional trainings, including before the Human Rights Council and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva.

In 2012, she won the eleventh annual Daniel Levy Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Immigration Law, which was presented at the annual American Immigration Lawyers Association Conference. In 2011, she was named as one of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”

Michelle holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from Georgetown University, and is admitted in the New York Bar.