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The Advocates for Human Rights

Minneapolis, United States
Joined September 2021

Based in Minneapolis, we work in our home community and with partners around the globe to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law.

Presence in: Nepal, United States
Focus: Citizenship & Identification, Education, Gender-based violence, Labor & Employment, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights

We work to change systems and conditions that cause human rights abuses, improve laws and lives, represent individual victims of human rights violations, and fight injustice. We build partnerships and mobilize volunteers to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. 

Program areas: 

Migrant Rights: Protecting dignity in migration and immigration policy. Our immigration policy advocacy is rooted in our legal work. We provide legal help to people seeking asylum, in ICE detention, and to unaccompanied children and human trafficking survivors. We also monitor and report on human rights conditions in U.S. immigration court through our volunteer court monitoring program.

Death Penalty Abolition: Working to abolish the death penalty in the United States and worldwide. We serve on the steering committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and train advocates worldwide to end use of the death penalty. 

Diaspora Engagement: Amplifying diaspora voices in create accountability. The Advocates partners with people in diaspora, including our immigration clients, to identify and end human rights violations in their countries of origin and in the United States. 

Human Trafficking: Advocating for a human rights-based approach to end trafficking. We monitor compliance with international obligations, document violations, create and advocate for human rights-based public policy responses, and provide free immigration legal help. 

International Advocacy: Leveraging global pressure to effect local change. We document violations and advocate before international bodies including the UN Human Rights Council. 

Women’s Rights: Ending violence against women and girls. We document human rights violations and work to improve laws and policies to end discrimination and violence against women and girls. We engage in legal reform, technical assistance and training, court monitoring, and documentation and curate the website 

People Associated With This Organization

Michele Garnett McKenzie

United States  
The Advocates for Human Rights
Joined September 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Criminal Justice, Policy Advocacy
Michele Garnett McKenzie serves on the senior leadership team at The Advocates for Human Rights. She also leads the organization's research, education, and advocacy team and is responsible for The Advocates' domestic priority issues including migration, human trafficking, and policing. She joined the staff of The Advocates in 1999 as an attorney representing asylum seekers and detained immigrants and later managed the organization's immigration legal services program. Today Michele works to document and report on human rights issues and is the author of publications on human trafficking and immigrant rights. Michele also leads the organization's domestic policy advocacy, successfully working to create transformative policy change.

Michele serves on the national leadership team of the Immigration Advocates Network. She previously has served on the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault public policy committee and Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force and as chair of Detention Watch Network. A member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, she is admitted to practice in the State of Minnesota. She has served as an adjunct clinical faculty member of Mitchell Hamline College of Law and the University of Minnesota Law School.

Prior to joining The Advocates, Michele was in private immigration practice, and served as a judicial law clerk for the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Arizona and Nevada. She received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School and her B.A. cum laude from Macalester College.

Safe Harbor for All: Results from a Statewide Strategic Planning Process in Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, The Advocates for Human Rights, and Rainbow Research, 2019.

Asking the Right Questions: A Human Rights Approach to Ending Trafficking and Exploitation in the Workplace. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, 2016.

Moving from Exclusion to Belonging: Immigrant Rights in Minnesota Today. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, 2014.

Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota's Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, 2013.

"State and Local Enforcement of Immigration Law and Community Responses to Find a Better Way." Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook. 2009-2010: 1115-1130. Written by Joan Friedland, Michele Garnett McKenzie, and Lisa Johnson-Firth

Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, 2009.

A House with Two Rooms: Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia Diaspora Project. St. Paul, MN: DRI Press, 2009.

Legal Services Chapter, in Healing the Hurt: A Guide for Developing Services for Torture Survivors. Minneapolis, MN: The Center for Victims of Torture, 2005.

"Challenges Facing Asylum Seekers and the Need for Pro Bono Representation" With Equal Right (Winter 2005).
Michele Garnett McKenzie is the network champion (main point of contact) for The Advocates for Human Rights.

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