In the seven days since President Trump’s Executive Order freezing the refugee program and banning people from seven countries from entering the United States, IRAP has been proud to be at the center of a historic demonstration of the power of human compassion bolstered by some good lawyering.
After President Trump issued the Executive Order last Friday, we immediately sprung into action:
- We organized an army of over 1,600 volunteer lawyers at airports around the country to defend the rights of incoming refugees and immigrants—read about our efforts in The New York Times and New York Magazine.
- We led a coalition of lawyers and law students with the ACLU, NILC, and Yale Law School to secure an emergency Temporary Restraining Order only 24 hours after the Executive Order, preventing the nationwide detention and deportation of any immigrants or refugees.
- We started a movement. Lawyers and volunteers at airports are now self-organized, with regional networks around the country, providing individual legal representation and advocating with airlines and local governments.
- We seized control of the international narrative. Through our work at the airports, we were able to demonstrate the chaos and discrimination behind the Executive Order and its implementation. It was this narrative that carried the news for three full days following the order, leading to Congressional protests and hearings and an internal investigation of the Department of Homeland Security.
At the same time, you made your voices heard. In the midst of the chaos that resulted from the Executive Order, thousands of people across the United States took to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity. We have been heartened by the warm welcome you and so many others have extended to refugees seeking a new life in the United States.
We will continue our work to provide safe passage for refugees and to fight back against this ban. Here’s a small sample of what else we are working on:
- A larger legal challenge to the discriminatory nature of the Executive Order, arguing that the Order in its entirety is unconstitutional.
- Negotiating with non-U.S. countries to take thousands of refugees who were in the U.S. pipeline to ensure our clients are resettled to safety.
- Ramping up advocacy efforts to push for broad exceptions to the ban for highly vulnerable refugees.
- Leveraging media to fight back against anti-refugee rhetoric and activities and continue to control the narrative on this story. (For example, you can see our team being interviewed on CNN and on MSNBC to discuss the impact of the Executive Order on refugees and the battle ahead against this ban.)
We are proud to be working side by side with our clients. Some are working as volunteers at airports. Yesterday, Farah testified before Congress [17:12] and wrote this powerful piece explaining why it is essential for the U.S. to welcome refugees.
Their stories are a powerful testament to the importance of this work. They are the reason why we will never back down.
On behalf of our team and our clients fighting to escape violence and persecution around the world, thank you for standing with us yesterday, today, and in the days ahead as we continue to work tirelessly to deliver legal solutions for the world’s most vulnerable refugees.