Anti-immigrant fervor has swept across America. Immigration raids have increased significantly. Immigrant communities are gripped by fear.
Immigration is a flash-point, more volatile than ever, in America’s culture wars and political struggles. At the center of this battle are sanctuary cities – communities that have declared themselves safe havens for people who are in the U.S. without legal papers.
Actually the term “sanctuary city” doesn’t do a very good job of describing the resistance to Trump-led efforts to detain and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. It’s true, hundreds of cities and counties, and even a handful of states, have adopted, reaffirmed or strengthened their sanctuary policies. But something else is happening too. The notion of sanctuary is being challenged and rethought by the very people that it is supposed to protect.
Some, like members of the group Trans Queer Pueblo in Phoenix, are rejecting the idea that sanctuary is something that can be granted to them by others. They see sanctuary as something they create for themselves through their work and political activism. In New York City which takes pride in its embrace of people from around the world, many argue that the city isn’t truly welcoming to immigrants. They point to police policies that disproportionately target immigrants of color, increasing the likelihood that they will come in contact with federal immigration authorities.
This issue of the Feet in 2 Worlds online magazine “Is it Safe Here: Redefining Sanctuary in the Trump Era,” takes a look at how the idea of sanctuary is being reshaped and tested in the current political environment. The story of how sanctuary cities are being challenged by the Trump White House and Republicans in Congress, as well as by some state governments, is already being reported by others. Our goal is to bring you stories that you haven’t seen before, bring new voices to the conversation and pose some important questions. How is the sanctuary movement affecting people’s lives? What is the distance between the promise of sanctuary and the level of security that it actually provides to undocumented immigrants? Can America continue to fulfill its historic role as a haven for people from around the world who come here seeking safety and a better life?
Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.