Making Place in Welcoming Cities: An Unsettled View of Inclusion and Integration

Authors: Adam Saltsman*, Worcester State University, Karen Jacobsen, Professor, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Refugees, Immigrant Integration, Urban Exclusion, Sanctuary
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Galerie 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Speaking to an interfaith gathering in support of refugees and immigrants in the wake of the election of President Donald Trump in November, 2016, Mayor Joseph Petty affirmed that Worcester, Massachusetts, is a welcoming city. To City Hall, this means promoting an atmosphere of inclusion and, more concretely, that municipal police generally don’t enforce immigration laws. But the work of operationalizing the idea of “welcome” to newcomers is dynamic, and while Worcester’s population is more than 20% foreign-born, recent political shifts across the United States demand that we interrogate this concept from a political and geographic perspective. Is it enough to be welcoming during this political moment, and, if not, why hasn’t Worcester joined the burgeoning ranks of Sanctuary Cities, taking a stand against the White House’s promises of mass-deportation? Beyond law enforcement, and the symbolism of the Sanctuary movement, the work of welcome is multi-faceted and imbricated with other struggles for place and equity in the city. Based on original research, this paper presents an analysis of the physical, social, and discursive landscape of inclusion, exclusion, and integration in Worcester, MA. I suggest that an emerging sense of “inclusion” and “welcome” coheres with interpretations of migration and settlement rooted in liberalism, evading more critical questions of how the experiences of refugees and immigrants in cities relate to issues of urban dispossession.

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