Countering the illiberal through local policy: the political effects of sanctuary cities

Authors: Janika Kuge*, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Janika Kuge, University of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Topics: Political Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Urban Geography
Keywords: Sanctuary Movement
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The current Sanctuary City dispositive emerged in early 2017 not only in the USA but also throughout Canada, and Europe, establishing a liberal idea of alternative membership and belonging. Worldwide it is applied in over 300 administrative districts in variegated ways. Sanctuary Cities institutionalize struggles of pro-immigration activists, seeking to create safe-havens for people lacking papers or with precarious legal status. The concept is building a local counterprogram to the increasingly strict citizenship policies of nation states, and tapping into a longer tradition of local grassroot organizing. This form of organization calls upon an active civil society to directly oppose the state's immigration apparatuses. Sanctuary policies are being put in place in the hope that political change can come from below through pragmatically embracing the reality of everyday life in a highly mobile and postnational urban society (Rodatz 2016). It states that change can come through autonomy of migration and acts of citizenship alongside with tethering this change to a discussion of the city as the characteristic space for it (Bauder 2016). Sanctuary policy scholarship thus ties citizenship theory (Rygiel 2010) to new urban geographies (Brenner/Schmid 2015). I argue that these sanctuary policies are tied to the “planetary urban” and its anticipated qualities, but more so to the pragmatism resulting from the power of the autonomy of migration. Therefore the current sanctuary movement is a timely reaction to emerging illiberal tendencies in immigration policy at a national level which are at odds with the logic and actual material circumstances of

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