Susan Gzesh

Susan Gzesh is a Senior Lecturer in the College, appointed in 2001 after two decades practicing law and teaching as a part-time Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School beginning in 1992.

Gzesh teaches courses on contemporary issues in human rights, the human rights of aliens and citizens, human rights in Mexico, and the use of international human rights norms in the United States. She teaches in the Pozen Center’s Human Rights Study Abroad program in Vienna, Austria. She supervises students on BA and MA theses and advises on PhD dissertation projects.

Her research interests include the inter-relationship between human rights and migration policy, the domestic application of international human rights norms, and Mexico-U.S. relations. In addition to teaching, she serves on the faculty committee of the Center for Latin American Studies.

Starting in 1978, Gzesh practiced law in private practice, federally-funded legal services, and with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. From 1996-2001, Gzesh was Director of the Mexico-U.S. Advocates Network and co-founded the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration, two innovative civil society coalitions spanning North America, Mexico, and Central America.

From 1997-1999 and from 2010-2014, Gzesh was a legal adviser to the Mexican Foreign Ministry on U.S. immigration law and policy. She was a Fulbright Lecturer in Mexico (1990) and served on the Clinton-Gore Transition Team for the Department of Justice (1992-1993). She was appointed to the State of Illinois New Americans Immigrant Policy Council (2005-2008) and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Task Force on ICE Misconduct (2008). She served on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Task Force on Immigration Policy in the Midwest (2012-2013). She has served on the Boards of Kartemquin Films, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. She is currently a non-resident Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. and an active member of the Chicago Committee for Human Rights Watch. 

Gzesh participated in civil society delegations to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration & Development (2013) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (2009, 2010) and was a keynote speaker at the Peoples’ Global Alliance on Migration (2010). She collaborates with the National Association of Latin American & Caribbean Communities and is a frequent speaker at seminars, conferences, and events in the U.S. and Mexico on topics related to human rights and migration. She is a participant in an international migration policy project coordinated by the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica (CIDE), Mexico.

Susan Gzesh received her BA from the University of Chicago in 1972 and a JD in 1977 from the University of Michigan. She is fluent in Spanish. She is a member of the Illinois bar and of counsel to Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. in Chicago.


“Mexican Asylum Seekers and the Convention Against Torture,” in Alejandro Anaya & Barbara Frey, eds., Human Rights in Mexico, University of Minnesota, 2018

 “Latino Immigrant Leadership in Chicago,” in Xochitl Bada, Jonathan Fox, Andrew Selee, ed\s., Latino Immigrants in the Windy City; New Trends in Civic Engagement, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2010

“Redefining Forced Migration Using Human Rights,” in Migracion y Desarrollo, Vol 10, Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas, 2008

“Central American Asylum Policy in the Reagan Era,” Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute, 2006

America’s Human Rights Challenge, Migration Policy Institute, 2006

“Mexico-U.S. Migration and Cross-Border Organizing," in David Brooks & Jonathan Fox, eds., Cross Border Dialogues: U.S.- Mexico Social Movement Networking, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD, 2002