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Women's Refugee Commission - Our Staff

Michelle Brané

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Michelle Brané is one of the nation’s foremost experts on U.S. immigration detention and reform. As the Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program 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. In addition to frequently writing on key issues concerning immigration detention and reform, she authored the 2007 Women's Refugee Commission landmark report on family detention, Locking Up Family Values and the 2009 report on unaccompanied migrant children, Halfway Home, and is the senior editor of all the Detention and Asylum Program’s reports.

Michelle has more than 25 years of 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. In her service as a labor negotiator at the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), she represented Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents among her clients. While at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, she 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 Human Rights Commission, appears frequently in national and local print and broadcast outlets, and presents regularly as an expert at various conferences, briefings, and professional trainings, including presentations before the Human Rights Counsel 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 (Listen to Michelle's speech or read the full text). In 2011, she was named as one of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.”

Michelle holds a B.A from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from Georgetown University and is a member of the New York bar.