Welcoming Cities? Understanding sanctuary in securitised states

Dr Rachel Humphris has recently been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship for a three year research project Welcoming Cities? Understanding sanctuary in securitised states.

The project is an international comparative study of city-level responses to national anti-migrant attitudes across Australia, USA and UK .

Governments in Australia, the USA and the UK have recently adopted the policy goal of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for non-citizens, defined as migrants with precarious legal status. Non-citizens’ access to services are increasingly restricted and many face state mandated exclusion from education, healthcare and housing, creating ‘internal borders’. Alongside these exclusionary national policies, an outpouring of volunteerism and alternative discourses have emerged to challenge this approach, particularly in cities. The term ‘sanctuary movements’ has emerged for policies and practices that welcome non-citizens in urban communities.

Balancing a national ‘hostile environment’ and localised ‘sanctuary movement’, urban policy-makers and frontline bureaucrats make life-changing decisions about non-citizens’ access to the welfare state. But what is the role of cities in the governance of global migration during rapid demographic and political change? What are the driving mechanisms behind sanctuary practices? What are city-level actors’ motivations, justifications and moral standpoints?

Welcoming Cities? examines such questions, by engaging with sanctuary movements in a historical and comparative perspective through in-depth empirical research. It will compare the history, implementation and impact of sanctuary movements in Melbourne (Australia), San Francisco (USA) and Sheffield (UK).

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