The world is facing a refugee crisis the likes of which we have not witnessed since World War II. Refugees around the world continue to be neglected, victimized, and denied the procedural safeguards that are the hallmarks of a just society. IRAP is changing this. We are reshaping thought and practice in the field by providing high quality legal representation and engaging in successful systemic advocacy and litigation. We are elevating the plight of refugees in the halls of Congress and before the United Nations and other international bodies. And we are incorporating refugee rights into the geopolitical narrative through thoughtful engagement of the media.
Providing Safe Passage and New Beginnings to the Most At-Risk Refugees
IRAP provides comprehensive legal representation to the most vulnerable and hard-to-serve refugees around the world. We ensure that refugee legal processes are efficient, fair, and transparent. IRAP’s work has:
- Helped to resettle over 4,000 refugees and their families to 18 different countries;
- Established a one-of-a-kind legal advice hotline for requests for assistance, as well as a special helpline for individuals affected by the travel ban, which has provided advice to more than 24,000 individuals from 73 countries;
- Organized an emergency taskforce of lawyers at airports across the country to defend the rights of those affected by the travel ban;
- Successfully litigated against executive orders restricting refugee resettlement, resulting in a nationwide stay that prevented the unlawful detention and deportation of refugees and others, and allowing more than 21,000 refugees to enter the United States who would have otherwise been frozen out;
- Won a groundbreaking lawsuit against President Trump’s proclamation attempting to end the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, ensuring that refugees will continue to be resettled to the United States;
- Worked successfully with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle the first group of Syrian refugees, and created a resettlement pipeline for the orderly handling of their cases; and
- Won a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security on behalf of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants who bravely served the U.S. during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but were mired in case processing limbo for years while being threatened with violence or death in their home countries.
Creating Systemic Reforms Benefiting Hundreds of Thousands of Refugees
IRAP has provided life-saving assistance in thousands of individual cases. We also commit significant resources to systemic reform that not only assists refugees seeking protection and resettlement, but also leads to the development of an enforceable system of legal rights and procedures for refugees worldwide. Recently, IRAP has:
- Helped enact nine provisions of federal legislation that afforded new legal rights to over 160,000 displaced people;
- Advocated for reforms in SIV processing to ensure that applicants whose work made them SIV-eligible were not improperly rejected based on State Department policy, and ensured that SIV eligibility reforms were not implemented retroactively;
- Established a precedent for in-country referrals by the U.S. Embassy in Iraq as a result of our assistance to a transgender Iraqi who was under threat. The in-country referral system was subsequently expanded to every U.S. Embassy in the world through a change in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual;
- Secured the release of thousands of pages of government documents on refugee processing, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa programs, and the Muslim ban, improving transparency and public information about these programs; and
- Extended and strengthened both the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa programs, ensuring the allotment of additional visas for 66,000 U.S. allies and immediate family members, and ensuring that these applicants have access to counsel in their overseas adjudications.
Providing Crucial Support and Building Capacity in the Field
IRAP provides vital support to students, professionals, and organizational partners in the United States and across the globe. This work includes:
- Engaging over 2,000 law students and pro bono lawyers in our work, thereby developing a generation of advocates and leaders in human rights and refugee resettlement advocacy; and
- Developing partnerships with over 50 U.S.-based and international human rights, immigration, and refugee resettlement organizations. This work bridges the gap between IRAP services and clients’ comprehensive needs. It also builds capacity for legal service professionals by providing strategic advice and training on how to identify, refer, and advise clients.