That kind of talk, and her accomplishments, have turned Ms. Heller and her organization, the International Refugee Assistance Project, or IRAP, into heroes of Mr. Trump’s opponents and causes célèbres of the coastal salon circuit.
Bob Dylan’s son Jesse is making a short film about the group’s work. Saying he admired Ms. Heller’s “chutzpah,” Charles Bronfman, the Seagram heir and an executive whose organization had already given her a $100,000 prize, threw a fund-raiser for her last month at his Fifth Avenue apartment.
Ms. Heller, who uses profanity when ranting and raving, kept her promise to Mr. Bronfman that she would sanitize her speech. She drew chuckles from the two dozen guests when she referred with irony to the president’s “excellent” policies, and when she threatened to steal a Chagall mounted on the wall.
“We made a lot of money,” she said afterward, declining to say how much. But all the attention has helped triple the IRAP budget this year, to $6.5 million, she said.
Ms. Heller characterizes her work as apolitical, which is not how supporters of Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda describe it. In their eyes, she comes off as a naïve liberal who puts the plight of foreigners over the nation’s he security.
Dale Wilcox, executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which filed a brief supporting the government in the appellate case, said that for groups like IRAP, “there can be no such thing as an immigration policy that puts the national interest first.” He said they treated the immigration system “like a giant global welfare program.”
To those critics, Ms. Heller says her role is to uphold the nation’s tradition of responding to humanitarian crises. And to those who know her best, it is not surprising that Ms. Heller has caused the administration…