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WRC’s Michelle Brané Tapped for Biden Administration

Brané to Head Up New Family Separation Task Force

NEW YORK, NY – The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) today applauded the White House announcement that Michelle Brané, long-time director of the organization’s Migrant Rights and Justice team, is headed to the Biden administration to serve as executive director of the newly formed Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families.

The Task Force was established via executive order on February 2, 2021, and is charged with identifying and reuniting families separated under the Trump administration. The Task Force will be a function of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with newly confirmed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas serving as Task Force Chairperson.

Brané, who was with WRC for 14 years, led a team that focuses on advancing the rights of migrants and people seeking asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico.

“Michelle built our Migrant Rights and Justice program from the ground up and is responsible for not only creating a powerful team that will continue this critical work, but she and her team have also been trailblazers in the work to protect the rights of women and girls seeking asylum in the U.S.,” said WRC Executive Director Sarah Costa.

“From the very first report identifying the harmful practice of family detention to developing a system to access and monitor immigration detention facilities to her work to identify and end the horrific practice of family separation, Michelle and her team have changed policy and lives. While we will miss Michelle tremendously, we know that the team she built – which will now be led by Acting Director Katharina Obser – will continue with their legacy of unparalleled championing of the rights of women and girls seeking safety in the U.S,” said Costa. “We also applaud President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas on making such a smart selection. Having Michelle at the helm of the new family separation task force is a massive win for the nation.”

“I have been privileged to work with excellent advocates for many years to fight for the rights of migrants, and in particular those seeking protection and a better life in the United States,” said Brané. “The separation of families as a punitive deterrence measure has been one of the most glaring and visceral injustices I have witnessed. I am honored to now have the opportunity to work with the Biden administration to do whatever I can to reunify these families and support them in their healing.”

Brané’s role is effective immediately.