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She Helped Create “Chaos at the Airports” after Trump’s Muslim Ban


Becca Heller, founder of the International Refugee Assistance Program

On January 27th, 2017, Donald Trump issued the travel ban barring visitors and migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Becca Heller, founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), had seen it coming. She foresaw that it would catch people in planes, turning passengers into undocumented immigrants midair. She prepared by setting up a network of volunteer lawyers who would show up at airports to help travelers being held there. On the 27th, the lawyers came, followed by thousands of protesters. The Trump administration, facing legal losses and “chaos at the airports,” gave up enforcing the ban until officials could draft a new version. For a while, the good guys had won. Two years later, with a MacArthur “genius” grant under her belt, the 37-year-old Heller is strategizing about where to take refugee-advocacy next. Serious stuff, but she’s still one of the funniest people ever to come on Here’s the Thing.

The International Refugee Assistance Project is at https://refugeerights.org/.

Listen to more at the episode archive.