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 policy advocacy. 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.
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 3,000 refugees and their families to nine different countries, establishing an 85% success rate in resettlement cases;
- Developed a service model that leverages every $1 spent into $10 in legal assistance to refugees
- Established a one-of-a-kind legal advice hotline for requests for assistance;
- 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;
- Achieved a 100% resettlement referral rate for participants in our LGBTI program;
- Established a successful women at risk pilot project that performed above and beyond established goals, facilitating protection for 62 extremely vulnerable women in Lebanon and Jordan;
- Conducted capacity-building trainings around sex trafficking, educating local stakeholders and organizations that women who are trafficked are not legally prostitutes—crucial because women convicted of prostitution are not eligible to be legally recognized as refugees by many countries;
- Conducted capacity-building workshops with non-governmental organizations in Kurdistan that did not know that Female Genital Cutting could be the source of a refugee claim;
- Worked with women’s shelters in two countries to accept and shelter lesbians; and
- Filed and won the first-ever lawsuit on behalf of a Special Immigrant Visa applicant claiming unreasonable delays in processing, in partnership with a law firm co-counsel, bringing our client to safety in the United States weeks later.
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. IRAP recently:
- Helped enact five separate pieces of legislation in the 113th Congress that afforded unprecedented legal rights to over 120,000 displaced people;
- Worked with the American Bar Association to create a policy platform around access to counsel for refugees seeking resettlement to the United States, including directly engaging the Secretary of Homeland Security;
- Compelled the U.S. government to create a special expedite category for LGBTI refugees seeking admission to the United States who face persecution based on gender identity or sexual orientation;
- 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 a death 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;
- Won Freedom of Information Act lawsuits that resulted in the release of over 10,000 pages of previously unreleased refugee processing information, which now serves as the basis for numerous advocacy and reform efforts;
- At the request of the White House, conducted research that led to improved Special Immigrant Visa processing for U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in an increase in visas processed from 392 in 2011 to more than 6,000 in 2013;
- Provided evidence necessary to change the Dutch asylum policy to recognize LGBTI Iraqis as a population at special risk, thereby saving thousands of Iraqis in the Netherlands from deportation;
- Through the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, attained the right to attorney representation for Iraqi and Afghan visa and refugee applicants—the first-ever access to counsel provisions for any overseas applicant seeking to resettle in the United States; and
- Extended and strengthened both the Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa programs, ensuring the allotment of additional visas for over 50,000 U.S. allies and immediate family members.
IRAP provides vital support to students, professionals, and organizational partners in the United States and across the globe. This work includes:
- Engaging over 3,000 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.