In recent years, migrant justice organizers in Canada have developed campaigns
aimed at building, legislating, and enforcing municipal commitments to alleviating
and resisting the harms done by federal immigration enforcement, and ensuring
migrant access to municipal services. As a result of these efforts, some cities, including
Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton, have declared themselves “sanctuary
cities,” and campaigns centered around this concept have emerged in other localities
across the country. In this article, the authors—who are themselves involved in sanctuary
city organizing—reflect on the concept, and offer a critical assessment of these
organizing efforts. We provide a brief history of these campaigns in Canada, discuss
the impact of these policies in cities where they have been adopted, reflect on the types
of politics that inform notions of sanctuary, hospitality, solidarity, and resistance, and
offer some lessons for moving forward.
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