Susan Gzesh

of counsel
F 312.580.1994
Susan Gzesh has been of counsel to Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. since 2010. She focuses on the areas of immigration, civil rights, international law, and labor and employment. Since 2001, Ms. Gzesh has taught full time in the College at the University of Chicago and, from 2001 to 2020, was Executive Director of the University’s Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

At the University, she supervises student research, mentors undergraduates, and teaches courses on contemporary issues in human rights, the rights of migrants, refugees, and citizens, the right to water, and human rights in Mexico. Her research interests bridge human rights and migration policy. She co-directs the New Drivers of Migration project, funded by the UChicago Provost’s Global Initiatives program.

From 1977 until the mid-1990s, Ms. Gzesh practiced law in Chicago, working at the Legal Assistance Foundation, the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and at two law firms. She represented individual immigrants and refugees, as well as political candidates and religious organizations. In the 1980s, she was legal adviser to national and local religious organizations that participated in the Sanctuary movement. In 1983, Ms. Gzesh won political asylum for Dennis Brutus, a Northwestern University professor and prominent South African anti-apartheid activist. From 1996-2001, she co-directed the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration, an international civil society coalition that advocated for the human rights of migrants with governments of the Regional Conference on Migration. From 1997–1999, she served as legal advisor to the Minister for Migration Affairs of the Embassy of Mexico. Ms. Gzesh was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico in 1990 and served on the Clinton-Gore Presidential Transition Team in 1992. She is active in local politics and on reproductive rights campaigns.


University of Michigan Law School (J.D. 1977)
University of Chicago (B.A. 1972)


U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois

Memberships / Associations

Board of Directors, Congregation K.A.M.-Isaiah Israel, Chicago
Non-resident Research Fellow, Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.
Faculty Board, Center for Latin American Studies, Univ. of Chicago
Faculty Board, Chicago Studies Program, Univ. of Chicago
Advisory Board, Instituto de las Mujeres en la Migración, Mexico City
Faculty Fellow, Gray Center for the Arts, University of Chicago
Board of Directors, Red Internacional de Migración y Desarrollo
Member, Chicago Council on Global Affairs Task force on Immigration in the Midwest
Board of Directors, Kartemquin Films
Board of Directors, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (chair)
Board of Directors, National Immigration Project/NLG (chair)
Public Square Advisory Board Member, Illinois Humanities Council
Advisory Board, PRODESC, Mexico City

Presentations & Publications

Asylum-seekers should be allowed to work,” Opinion piece, Chicago Tribune, (June 19, 2023)

“Fluid Dynamics—Water, Rights, and Art in the Body Politic,” (co-author), The Portable Gray, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 2022, Univ. of Chicago

“Why Must Central American Asylum Seekers Risk Their Lives to Reach the US? There is an Alternative.” Just Security, online journal, New York University, April 19, 2021

“Whistleblower: DHS Suppressed Reports on Central America,” Just Security, online journal, New York University, September 16, 2020

“Pandemic as Pretext: Trump initiatives against asylum seekers,” Notas Sobre Migracion y Desigualdades. Notes on Migration and Inequality, Colegio de Mexico, July 2020

“The Virtual Wall: Mexico, Part 1,” “Safe Third Country Agreements with Guatemala and Mexico would be unlawful;” “Blocking or Aiding Asylum Seekers: the U.S Canada Agreement;” and “Questions Surround Secretive U.S.- Guatemala Agreement,” series, Just Security, online journal, New York University, July 2019; February 2020

“Mexican Asylum Seekers and the Convention Against Torture,” (chapter), in Anaya, Alejandro & Barbara Frey, Eds. Mexico’s Human Rights Crisis, (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press) 2018

“Carta a AMLO sobre los derechos de migrantes en el EU,” with Congressman Jesus Garcia, La Jornada, 9 de julio 2018

“La protección consular mexicana ante la administración Trump: Recomendaciones de acción inmediata,” with Jorge Schiavon, Documentos de Política Migratoria, Colegio de México/ CIDE/ UNAM, April 2018


“Mexico ante las iniciativas en migración del Presidente Biden, Colegio de Mexico, Seminario Migracion, Desigualdad y Política Publica, Mexico City, (May 24, 2023)

“Biden Administration Migration Policies: Back to the Future?” Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Económica (CIDE), Mexico City, September 13, 2022

“Migración y los derechos humanos en América del Norte,” Universidad Católica Loja de Perú, II Congreso Internacional: Crisis y Migración, Conference Keynote, July 8, 2022 (Zoom)

“La politica migratoria hacia los flujos de refugiados hoy en día,” Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, SUDIMER Diplomado, May 24, 2022 (Zoom)

“The legal framework of today’s immigration policy,” National Council of Jewish Women, Chicago – Lecture: (Zoom) May 23, 2022

“Roe v. Wade: Then & Now,” panel moderator May 21, 2022 University of Chicago, Alumni Weekend

“Contemporary Asylum Problems,” University of California, Berkeley, Introduction to Human Rights lecture, Mar. 17, 2022

“Refugee Resettlement Now,” Congregation K.A.M.-Isaiah Israel, Chicago, Feb. 27, 2022

“How U.S. immigration law was responsible for Holocaust deaths: My family’s story,” Chicago-wide Yom HaShoah Virtual Memorial, April 7, 2021 (Zoom)

“Mexico: Mas alla de la frontera/ What U.S. lawyers need to know,” American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Fall Conference, December 17, 2020 (Zoom)

“Pandemia como pretexto,” Seminar on Migration and Inequality, Colegio de Mexico, June 16, 2020 (Zoom)

“La politica hacia refugiados de la administración Trump frente al COVID,” Dialogo Regional Estrategico, Sin Fronteras y ITAM,  June 11, 2020 (Zoom)

Commentator, book panel, Refuge Beyond Reach, (David FitzGerald, Oxford University Press), Social Science Historical Association, Chicago, November 22, 2019

“La politica migratoria de Trump y las implicaciones para las mujeres migrantes,” Encuentro sobre Mujeres Migrantes, Consul General of Mexico, Chicago, October 16, 2019

¿Qué son los acuerdos de “Tercer país seguro” y qué implicaciones tendría uno para México?” Seminario de Migracion, Desigualdad, y Politicas Publicas, Colegio de Mexico, 11 Sept 2019

“The Fragility of Human Rights,” Harper Lecture, University of Chicago Alumni Association, San Francisco, California,  April 7, 2019

“Human rights violations, protection gaps, and the State;” chief conference organizer, New Drivers of Migration, University of Chicago, March 10-12, 2019




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