International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a nationwide organization of law students and legal practitioners who provide assistance to refugees throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region who are navigating the resettlement process, and advocate on their behalf for improvements in the national and international refugee processing systems.
Organizationally, IRAP is structured as “chapters” at law schools around the country (the number of chapters continues to increase every year). Traditionally, IRAP chapters perform clientwork and policy work.
Clientwork involves working in groups of three students and an attorney from a law firm to provide assistance to individual clients as they navigate the refugee resettlement process. The work may include performing interviews via telephone or video conference, assisting clients in preparing paperwork, affidavits, and supporting evidence for their resettlement applications, preparing administrative or judicial appeals, performing legal and factual research, and assisting the client in preparing for interviews before UN or U.S. immigration officials.
Policy work involves a variety of research and writing tasks oriented towards advocating for improvements in refugee policy at both the U.S. and international levels. This includes performing research and preparing numerous documents regarding refugee issues, including legal memorandums, reports, and op-eds. These documents are oriented towards different audiences that IRAP seeks to influence, including the national media, the public as a whole, the human rights advocacy community, policymakers, and politicians. Research may consist of traditional legal research as well as gathering of information from NGO reports, and personal outreach to clients, NGOs, and members of civil society in various countries via email, telephone and Skype. Policy work may also include short-term projects arising from the cases of individual clients that require in-depth legal or factual research. IRAP has a national strategy for policy outreach on particular topics of interest to refugees from the MENA region, which their National Policy Director will inform you about early in the Fall semester.
While Columbia Law used to be quite involved in IRAP policy work, in recent years, IRAP Columbia has shifted away from policy work due to its tight deadlines. That said, some opportunities to work with IRAP’s exciting policy arm may exist. Please contact the IRAP coordinators for more details if you are interested.
Pro Bono Credit
We have an “established placement” with SJI, meaning that the process is streamlined for students to submit their pro bono hours to SJI and have them approved by IRAP National.
IRAP National has a training event for NYC area law schools. The CLS IRAP chapter also hosts training events for its participants. Training is mandatory for all participants.
IRAP has a National Conference each year in Washington, DC, or NYC where members from all of the chapters gather to share information about the work they have done, hear speakers from various government agencies, NGOs and international organizations, and meet with government officials regarding current refugee resettlement issues.
IRAP will also be incorporating social events this year, hopefully bringing the client teams together along with other IRAP chapters at NYU and Fordham! Details to come.
For more information about getting involved in IRAP please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also contact the IRAP co-chairs, Rebecca Marie Nocharli (email@example.com) and George Najjar (firstname.lastname@example.org).