An out of focus figure in a hooded sweatshirt stands behind a fence.

Asylum & Detention

IRAP is working to protect the integrity of the U.S. asylum system, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border, which remains a flashpoint in the U.S. immigration debate. Several new policies, rules, and guidelines issued over the last few years have consistently and dramatically chipped away at the long held legal protections given to asylum-seekers arriving at our borders. Together with numerous partners, IRAP is developing strategic legal and policy solutions to mount a coordinated response to these injustices. For example, IRAP has brought challenges against the Trump administration’s rules curtailing the ability of asylum seekers to work legally in the United States and the harmful rule changes that gave asylum officers broader discretion to deport asylum seekers during the credible fear interview process.

IRAP has also launched a program to provide remote legal aid to highly vulnerable asylum seekers at the El Paso-Juárez border, facilitating the delivery of legal services to a region with a severe lack of access to counsel and allowing us to identify issues in the asylum process ripe for litigation.

Client Story: Julissa

Julissa was granted asylum after she fled El Salvador seeking safety from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, but her future in the United States was still uncertain. IRAP worked with Julissa to apply for permanent residency – her green card – but excessive administrative delays meant that IRAP had to engage in extensive advocacy to cut through the red tape. Even after Julissa received her green card, her path to citizenship was not a simple one. Julissa had been subjected to discriminatory police interactions during her time in the U.S., and USCIS was trying to use information about these encounters to withhold citizenship from her. Ultimately, Julissa and IRAP were successful in getting her application approved, and Julissa was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in early 2022.

Julissa, an IRAP client from El Salvador, holds a U.S. flag and her citizenship certificate at her ceremony to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. She wears a pastel pink suit and her vivid red hair is pulled back into a neat bun.