Melissa Crow

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Director of Litigation

Pronouns: she/her

Melissa leads CGRS's affirmative litigation, direct representation work, and appellate practice before federal courts and immigration agencies. She is frequently invited to speak on cutting-edge immigration issues and has published numerous articles, practice advisories, and blogs. 

Before joining CGRS, Melissa was a Senior Supervising Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Immigrant Justice Project, where she led strategic litigation and advocacy to promote fair and humane immigration policies. From 2010 to 2017, she served as Legal Director of the American Immigration Council, where she oversaw the development of a robust docket of litigation intended to enhance due process for immigrants, promote government accountability, and challenge overly restrictive interpretations of our immigration laws. She served previously as a senior advisor at the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration, counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy during the 2007 U.S. Senate debates on immigration reform, a partner with the law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy in Baltimore, Maryland, and a clinical law professor in the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Washington College of Law and the Safe Harbor Clinic at Brooklyn Law School. 

Languages: French, Spanish


New York University School of Law, J.D. 

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, M.A.L.D
Ford Foundation Fellowship in Public International Law
Praxis: A Journal of Development Studies, Staff Editor

Brown University, B.A. in Comparative Literature, magna cum laude

Admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New York.


2009 Outstanding Achievement Award in the Field of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Washington Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Service to the Community

  • Member, American Bar Association Commission on Immigration 
  • Board Member, Jewish Reconstructionist Camping Corporation

Selected Publications and Commentary

  • "Restoring Asylum: The Challenges of 'Building Back Better' at the Border," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, April 7, 2021
  • "The Border and Beyond: Issues Affecting Eligibility for Asylum," Panel presentation at AILA Federal Court Removal Litigation Online Conference, October 20, 2020
  • "Addressing the Trump Immigration Bench and the Politicization of BIA and IJ Hires," Panel presentation at National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer's Guild Virtual Membership Meeting, September 25, 2020
  • "The Fight to Preserve Safe Haven in the United States," Panel presentation at ABA Mid-Year Meeting, Austin TX, February 14, 2020