Asylum in the City - The Impact of Local Policies and Civil Society Actors in the Support of Asylum Seekers in US Cities

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Rene Kreichauf
Chairs: Rene Kreichauf

Call for Submissions

If you are interested in participating in this session please send your abstract including: (1) paper title; (2)
author(s); (3) institutional affiliation(s); (4) email address; (5) a 250 word (maximum) abstract; and (6) 5 key
words to no later than October 19, 2018. Participants will be notified until the
October 22 if their papers have been accepted for this session. Accepted participants will then need to
register and submit their abstract through the AAG website and provide their PIN to the organizer by the
October 25 at the latest. Details are here:
Organizer of the session:
René Kreichauf, Cosmopolis – Centre for Urban Research (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)


The number of asylum requests in the US has been significantly increasing in the passing years; more than
318,000 applications are currently pending. Asylum seekers must navigate complex processes that involve
multiple government agencies. Those agencies fail to provide sufficient support regarding welfare, health
care, housing and labor market accesses. Instead, the ones seeking protection are labelled as security risks
and confronted with long periods of detention, family separations as well as insecurity, invisibility and a
constructed illegality. Because of the recent narrowing of previous paths to Asylum, including the increase
of detention, bordering, punishment and deportation practices, local actors, legal advocates, immigrant and
asylum seeker organizations have often implemented approaches and support structures against this federal
“zero tolerance” policy.

Whereas there is several research on the arrival and living conditions of refugees in the US, studies on the
precarious situation of asylum seekers are rather scarce. Asylum seekers are often analyzed in the context of
undocumented immigrants and local sanctuary policies directed to immigrants without an immigration
status or they are wrongly included into studies on (resettled) refugees. However, asylum seekers face
exceptional challenges and conditions during and after entering the US. Because of the lack of
institutionalized support structures (i.e. compared to resettled refugees), the role of the local and community
organizations, which help asylum seekers to settle into their communities, is even more relevant.
This panel focuses on the structures and forms of governing the migration of asylum seekers on the local
level and the challenges and abilities specific to cities. It concentrates on the role of local policies, civil
society actors and migrant organizations that address the needs of asylum seekers during and immediately
after the application process. This includes studies on current conflicts between federal anti-immigration
politics and progressive responses of local urban actors. This session seeks contributions that study the
positioning of cities, local institutions and organizations regarding the arrival of asylum seekers. It also seeks
papers which theoretically and/or empirically examine the process of this arrival on the local level, including
reflections of the reception situation from the asylum seekers’ perspectives.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The mesh of relations, interactions and negotiations of governmental, administrative, political and civil
society actors, which are part of the arrival of asylum seekers in cities
- The trajectories of asylum seekers pre-arrival, during arrival and post-arrival and their dealings with the
asylum process
- The role of non-governmental organizations and agencies in the support of asylum seekers
- Socio-spatial infrastructures of the arrival and integration of asylum seekers in US cities
- Bordering practices in metropolitan regions (airports, ports, etc.)
- Detention practices and the role of detention during the asylum process
- Sanctuary policies and their (in)importance for the needs of asylum seekers
- (Re-)scaling of asylum seekers migration and the positioning of the local level
- Theoretical frameworks to study the situation of asylum seekers in cities


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Emily Frazier*, University of Tennessee, Divergent Narratives of Home, Belonging, and Integration in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement System 20 5:00 PM
Presenter Karina Moreno*, , Sanctuary in a Trump World: Determinants of local governments’ administrative discretion in showing empathy towards immigrants and asylum seekers 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Miao-ling Hasenkamp*, , Renegotiating the city: Surveillance and refugee integration in German urban communities 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Birgit Glorius*, TU Chemnitz, Contesting Schengen – Border Zones and Cross-Border Cooperation during and after the European “migration crisis” 20 6:00 PM
Discussant Hala El Moussawi Vrije Universiteit Brussel 20 6:20 PM

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