The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) provides legal representation to refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as to refugees of other nationalities. IRAP is a student-driven organization that matches law students with pro bono supervising attorneys to take on individual cases. Together they help refugee applicants successfully navigate the rules and processes for resettlement in a safe third country. IRAP is a national organization with chapters at various law schools, including NYU. More information on IRAP National can be found here.
The main avenue for involvement with IRAP NYU is the Student Advocacy program. Students can also participate in the newly launched Intake Project. Additionally, a group of IRAP NYU students typically take a trip to Jordan every year during spring break to meet with NGOs and get a closer look at the intake and orientation process.
IRAP's Student Advocacy program matches teams of 2-3 law students with supervising attorneys who have volunteered to work pro bono. Together, the student advocates and supervising attorneys take on the case of a refugee or refugee family seeking resettlement in the United States. Most refugees or refugee families are Iraqi and are currently located in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or Iraq. Some refugees are applying for resettlement for the first time and others are appealing their rejection. Students -- with the support of the supervising attorneys, IRAP-NYU Case Managers, and regular training sessions -- handle the case from start to finish. As a result, IRAP provides students a unique opportunity to gain real legal and client experience within a supportive framework. Typical work includes:
- Preparing client interview questions and interviewing clients
- Submitting a Freedom of Information Act request
- Drafting affidavits
- Crafting case strategy
- Gathering supporting evidence
- Conducting legal research
- Drafting the application or appeal brief.
Student Advocates make a commitment to an individual – and, oftentimes a family – living in volatile and challenging circumstances. IRAP advocates are often a refugee's last hope for resettlement in the United States and the U.S. government often takes months (if not years) to process resettlement requests. As a result, IRAP asks each student advocate to commit to her client until the case is closed or until she graduates from law school, whichever occurs first. (Students are, of course, welcome to continue working on their cases after graduation.)
Student volunteers can also participate in the recently launched Intake Project. Students assist IRAP Nationals in interviewing and screening potential clients. Prospective clients who may be in a position to benefit from IRAP's services are scheduled for intake interviews with student volunteers. From there, IRAP staff conduct further follow-up interviews, give legal advice, provide representation, or prepare the case for assignment to U.S. legal teams.
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) trip
Members of IRAP's NYU chapter have the opportunity to travel to the Middle East during Spring Break to meet with clients and learn more about the refugee process. Past trips have included travel to Amman and Beirut. In Jordan, members attend trainings about the challenges faced by refugees, meet with refugee assistance organizations and conduct client meetings and interviews. At the end of the trip there are opportunities to travel to Petra and the Dead Sea. More details on this year's trip will be available as the year progresses.