Model & Strategy

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid and systemic policy advocacy, IRAP simultaneously serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders. IRAP is the first and only organization to provide refugees with attorneys throughout every step of the registration, protection, and resettlement process, moving the needle on what it means to effectively help refugees fleeing persecution.

IRAP is on the front lines of the fight against the current administration’s discriminatory executive orders that are intended to deny safe haven and freedom to thousands of vulnerable refugees. In the wake of the airport chaos following the January 27 executive order (during which we organized over 1,600 lawyers into a rapid response airport legal aid force), IRAP has had amazing success advocating for continued resettlement in the U.S. and abroad. IRAP won the first travel ban case and we are uniquely positioned to challenge efforts to block refugees from entering the United States. To date, IRAP has responded ad hoc to numerous incidents of refugees being detained at airports in the weeks since the executive order was first issued.

IRAP Logo
At a Glance
Founded: 2010
Social Justice
Location of work: International, Asia
International Refugee Assistance Project
40 Rector Street
9th Floor
New York, NY 10006
We believe in the power of individuals to change their own circumstances. And we believe in results.
Immigrant family sits on the floor in their living room smiling
Becca Heller headshot
Meet Becca Heller

Becca Heller’s interest in the legal challenges facing refugees began in 2008 while living in Israel during her Kirby Simon Fellowship from Yale Law School, when she traveled to Amman, Jordan to learn about the situation facing Iraqi refugees. While in Jordan, Becca met with Iraqi refugees suffering from persecution, discrimination, and intense poverty. Prior to attending law school, Becca had conducted AIDS and HIV-related malnutrition work in Sub-Saharan Africa and anticipated that the families she met would face similar socio-economic challenges — hunger, shelter, poverty, and lack of access to health care. While these were certainly present, what surprised her was that each family’s primary concern was tied to legal rights: they lived in fear while seeking resettlement to a safe third country, but the “system” that was set up to resettle them was opaque, impossible to navigate and deliberately withheld information from them.  They sought international protection and resettlement in order to save their lives, yet none understood how to navigate the legal processes involved and no legal aid was available.

After listening to their plight, Becca promised to see if there was anything she could do to help. when she attempted to inquire about their application, she was told that refugees had no right to due process. They could not ask questions about their application or determine its status. If it was rejected, they would not know why nor would they be able to appeal the decision. When she returned to Yale in the fall of 2008, Becca shared her experiences with four other students: one was a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; another was a Washington Post journalist who had reported from Baghdad and Fallujah; two others had worked on the ground with refugees in various countries. Together, they formed an extracurricular organization and set about leveraging the resources they had at hand — namely, law students and lawyers. They identified experienced attorneys willing to work pro bono as attorney of record on a refugee cases and paired them with law students who could provide the legwork and research needed to pursue individual cases. In a matter of months, IRAP was born. When Becca graduated in the spring of 2010, she became the organization’s Director and IRAP was formalized under the umbrella of the New York based Urban Justice Center.

IMPACT

29 law school chapters

75 firms established

55 counties served

150,100 lives changed

 

  • Check out Adam Bates, IRAP's Policy Counsel, on the @cspanwj this morning talk about the abhorrently low refugee ca… https://t.co/f7WfSdCFaD
  • RT @taniakaras: New docs show the standards to qualify for a travel-ban waiver are more restrictive than the administration has implied — a…
  • Internal documents recently obtained by us through a #FOIA request highlight the difficulties faced by immigrants w… https://t.co/TRG9yIpwCn
  • RT @betsylfisher: Thanks for @DLind and @voxdotcom for highlighting documents released to @RefugeeAssist through #FOIA on #MuslimBan waiver…
  • RT @DLind: 🚨Internal travel-ban docs🚨 How the State Department is telling visa officers to decide who qualifies for a travel ban waiver (F…
  • RT @humanrights1st: Our military has a strong, strategic tradition of depending on local allies. For many of our allies who remain in Afgha…
  • RT @RCUSA_DC: It's "a critical time for members of Congress and the public and the media to put pressure ... on Congress to hold the admini…
  • "What we hear increasingly from those countries who are hosting and always will host the majority of refugees is th… https://t.co/v4joU68W8f
  • RT @HIASrefugees: This administration has shown absolutely no commitment to refugee protection or to international leadership. - @MarkJHetf…
  • Trump slashed refugee levels this year. For 2019, he’s slashing them even further. https://t.co/OJ07NlBr33 via @voxdotcom
  • RT @RefugeesChief: Resettlement can be life saving for thousands of vulnerable refugees. It is disappointing to see global refugee resettle…
  • RT @RosLehtinen: As a political #refugee + co-chair of the Cong Refugee Caucus w @RepZoeLofgren, I'm appalled by Admin's decision to once a…
  • RT @ZainabSalbi: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Presidential Determination for refugee admissions for the upcoming fiscal year to…
  • RT @betsylfisher: Reaction from @RefugeeAssist to the news from @SecPompeo that the US will resettle up to 30,000 refugees in FY19 is here:…
  • #BREAKING: The Trump administration just announced another blow to the refugee admissions program - setting next ye… https://t.co/8imyVtG4o5
  • RT @RCUSA_DC: BREAKING: entering the final weeks of the fiscal year total refugee arrivals hover just above 20,000, this is 46% of the Pres…
  • Check out the @ZolbergInst's new #TempestTossed podcast featuring important & relevant conversations on immigration… https://t.co/eW9qDtBDkv
  • RT @marikoinNY: A reminder that we’ll be reviewing applications soon for the senior litigator opening. Apply now to join our innovative hum…
  • RT @betsylfisher: .@madeleine and @DMiliband discussing the strategic importance--head and heart--of the US continuing international aid an…
  • .@DMiliband points out that there is a fiction that the refugee crisis is a short-term crisis; however, the truth i… https://t.co/te22hgINmx