June 17, 2020 

Giraffe Heroes Project Awards Two Immigration Whistleblowers for  

Compassionate Risktaking 

Government Accountability Project Clients Among Awardees 

WASHINGTON – Last week, the Giraffe Heroes Project announced the recipients of its “Giraffe Heroes” award, an annual award given to individuals who demonstrated compassionate risktaking. Two of this years awardees are Government Accountability Project clients and immigration whistleblowersEllen Gallagher and Doug Stephens 

In 2015, Gallagher, then a specialist for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, blew the whistle on threats to immigrant health and safety from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s widespread use of solitary confinement on mentally ill and medically vulnerable detaineesGallagher’s disclosures were made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in a collaboration between The Intercept, NBC News, Univision and others. Her disclosures have prompted congressional calls for investigations into ICE abuses and the introduction of legislation limiting the use of solitary confinement.  

In 2019, following the Trump administration’s implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) (otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy), Doug Stephens quit his job as a US asylum officer rather than implement a policy he believed was both illegal and dangerous in requiring immigrants to remain in unsafe parts of Mexico where their lives were at risk of rape, kidnapping, and violence  for the duration of their immigrant proceedings. A joint reporting project between NPR, the LATimes, and -Vice News  covered Stephens’ disclosures and won a Pulitzer in 2020. MPP is currently under consideration before the Supreme Court.  

Of the awards, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel Dana Gold said,  

“I applaud the Giraffe Heroes Project for selecting Ellen Gallagher and Doug Stephens to commend for their whistleblowing. They join a long line of whistleblowers honored for their truth-tellingsuch as Government Accountability Project clients Drs. Scott Allen and Pamela McPhersonJohn KiriakouSonja Andersonand Thomas Drake. The world needs examples of ethical heroes, now more than ever, and we are honored to represent whistleblowers, like Ellen and Doug, who stick their necks out to protect the public interest. 

Contact: Dana Gold, Senior Counsel and Director of Education
Email[email protected]
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x160 

Government Accountability Project 

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.