A global leader in the legal treatment and resettlement of the most vulnerable displaced people
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is the legal advocacy organization for refugees and displaced people in need of a safe place to call home. Over a short period of time, IRAP has emerged as a global leader in providing legal aid for refugees and achieving policy advocacy and impact litigation successes on behalf of refugees, even in an intensely challenging climate.
The backbone of IRAP’s work is its army of 2,400 law students and lawyers, from 30 law schools and over 95 international law firms and multinational corporations, who offer pro bono legal services for people living in, and fleeing from, war, persecution, and political upheaval around the world. Many of these lawyers and law students also serve as advocates for refugee rights. For example, in the hours and days after the Trump administration announced its first Muslim Travel Ban in January 2017, IRAP organized its network of volunteer lawyers to show up at airports around the country to help travelers being detained there.
IRAP leads some of the most significant impact litigation and systemic advocacy related to refugees. Among their numerous high-profile wins, in early 2020, IRAP and three faith-based organizations won a preliminary injunction in their case challenging the Trump administration’s executive order to give state and local officials the power to veto resettlement in their jurisdictions, allowing resettlement to continue in all 50 states. The decision was a victory not only for people who may have otherwise been unable to join their family members, but also for the resettlement agencies that rely on strong relationships with communities around the country to fill the essential role of welcoming refugees to America and helping them rebuild their lives in safety and security.
IRAP has made significant gains in reunifying separated family members, and in securing life-saving visas and legal protections for over 170,000 displaced people. IRAP currently partners with the UNHCR’s Office of the Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation and RefugePoint to provide legal representation to unaccompanied children and youth in refugee camps, detention centers and urban areas in East Africa who are seeking to reunify with family members in Europe and North America. IRAP has also taken a leadership role in advocacy efforts to protect Afghans and Iraqis and their families whose lives are at risk because of their service to the U.S. government.
IRAP has helped create bridges between the refugee and asylum fields and the larger immigration field, recognizing that refugees and asylum seekers are part of the broader category of people who migrate and that refugee and asylum processes are part of the overarching immigration system. IRAP has also been a leader in addressing the connections between climate change and migration.
Unbound has supported IRAP since 2014; its work advances our System priority area, specifically to preserve recent levels of refugee resettlement in the US, to prevent discrimination against eligible populations based on national origin and religion, and to build greater public support for refugee admissions.
It looked like I was stuck in a very well-dug hole that was so dark, that no matter how loud I screamed for help no one would help me [and] IRAP was the only one that came to help me.
Masooma Hussaini, Afghan fighter pilot who was targeted for being a woman in the Afghan military. IRAP helped both her and her sister reach safety in the U.S.
Leading the way in providing free, high-quality legal representation for the world’s most vulnerable displaced people, and leading impact litigation on their behalf
Refugees that IRAP has helped to resettle in 18 different countries
Photos shared with permission by IRAP
Photo 1: IRAP client Hameed Darweesh with Representatives Nadler and Velazques upon his release from detention at JFK airport following the Muslim ban executive order
Photo 2: The Ibrahim family during a consultation with an IRAP attorney prior to being resettled to Portland, Oregon.