Refuge in the Windy City: Three Dimensions of a Sanctuary City

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Migration to the United States has been a core aspect of the country’s history, identity, and society. In recent years the issue of undocumented immigration has been politicized and the current administration has made restrictive immigration reform one of its focal points. For many undocumented immigrants in the United States, regardless of legal status, the fear of deportation is a daily matter. Sanctuary cities are localities that respond to these concerns of undocumented immigrants in a wide variety of ways. Although much scholarly research has been devoted to sanctuary cities, there is not yet a fixed or legal definition. In this thesis, I identify three dimensions on which scholarly research concerning sanctuary cities has focused. The first dimension is the relation between sanctuary cities and the discrimination and criminalization of immigrants throughout the history of federal immigration law. The second dimension is the relation between sanctuary cities and the ways in which they respond to issues of federalism by constructing safe spaces for undocumented immigrants. The third dimension is the relation between sanctuary cities and the construction of forms of local citizenship. I argue that the relationship between these dimensions is an ongoing shift in authority over immigration law and its enforcement from the national to a subnational level, especially to the city level. Chicago is one of the many sanctuary cities in the United States. Although this city houses thousands of documented and undocumented immigrants and has declared itself a sanctuary city since 1985, not much scholarship is focused on its sanctuary policies. Because of this gap in research I will utilize Chicago’s sanctuary policies as the main example throughout this thesis
Faculteit der Letteren