Becca Heller: The refugees' advocate
Better legal protection for "the most disenfranchised population … [the] stateless," could change the world, says Becca Heller, the cofounder and director of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).
"I think about this every single day," says Ms. Heller, who is driven by stories of people like the Iraqi Christian man under death threats for his work helping Americans. His US visa application – and ticket to safety – was stalled last summer when his 15-year-old daughter was kidnapped and married off to a Muslim. Without his daughter at visa interviews, the process is on hold.
Each time a bureaucrat makes a minor mistake, says Heller, an entire family can be doomed. The United Nations estimates there are 12 million "stateless" people worldwide – plus 25.2 million refugees and internally displaced people – in need of resettlement help. They "should have basic legal rights," says Heller, who created IRAP in 2010 during her second year of law school at Yale University. The program now has chapters at 18 law schools in the US and the Middle East providing pro bono legal service to thousands of refugees.
"I see human migration and displacement as the major humanitarian issue of this generation," says Heller.
– Whitney Eulich
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