Defining and Defending Sanctuary Cities

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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Tuesday, April 2, 20191:00PM - 3:00PMBloor - 1st floor Boardroom/Round Room/Library, 315 Bloor Street West
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A webinar of this event will be available shortly before the panel begins. 

While the concept of sanctuary cities ancient, it has taken on new importance along with the politicization and securitization of migration.

In the US, local sanctuary policies and social movements can play an important role in defending undocumented people. This is particularly important given schisms between city, state, and federal policy, and the proportion of undocumented people with partners, spouses, and children with US citizenship. Sanctuary policies can also play an important role in ensuring that undocumented people can access healthcare and social services, and feel safe to report crimes, unfair labour practices, and domestic abuse.

At the same time, sanctuary policies can serve as a point of backlash from law enforcement agencies, immigration authorities, and often first and second-generation immigrant communities. 

This panel will unpack the role of sanctuary movements in the US context, and compare them with policies in Canada, where the role of immigration enforcement and undocumented populations is far less politicized from either end of the spectrum. The panel brings together practitioner and academic perspectives, in conversation with policymakers from the City of Toronto.

Alexandra Délano Alonso: “The Limits and Possibilities of Sanctuary: Modes of Resistance and Solidarity in the Trump era”

Idil Atak: “Toronto’s Sanctuary City Policy: Rationale and Barriers”

Ritika Goel: ““No Sanctuary Without Health: Uninsured in Canada”

In conversation with Chris Brillinger, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration at City of Toronto

Idil Atak is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University. She received her Ph.D. from the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Law. She was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the McGill Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism. Idil is the Editor-In-Chief of International Journal of Migration and Border Studies (IJMBS). She is a member of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration’s (IASFM) Executive Committee, the past president of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS), and a research associate at Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law (McGill University). 

Her research interests include irregular migration, refugee protection, and international and European human rights law. She is currently conducting a SSHRC-funded research on the intersection of security, irregular migration and asylum, along with Professors Graham Hudson (Ryerson University) and Delphine Nakache (University of Ottawa). Idil served as a legal expert for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, then as deputy to the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Alexandra Délano Alonso is Associate Professor and Chair of Global Studies at The New School and the current holder of the Eugene M. Lang Professorship for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. She received her doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford. Her work focuses on diaspora policies, the transnational relationships between states and migrants, sanctuary, and the politics of memory in relation to borders, violence and migration. She is a faculty fellow at the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and a member of the Sanctuary Working Group at The New School.

She is the author of From Here and There: Diaspora Policies, Integration and Social Rights beyond Borders (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her book Mexico and Its Diaspora in the United States: Policies of Emigration since 1848 (Cambridge University Press, 2011) was the co-winner of the William LeoGrande Prize for the best book on US-Latin America Relations and was published in Spanish by El Colegio de México in 2014. Recent publications include the special issue “Microfoundations of Diaspora Politics” (co-editor and co-author with Harris Mylonas, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2018) and “Borders and the Politics of Mourning” (co-editor and co-author with Benjamin Nienass, Social Research, Summer 2016).

Dr. Ritika Goel is a family physician and activist in Toronto. She works with migrants with precarious immigration status, and people experiencing homelessness and poverty, at Queen West Community Health Centre and the Inner City Health Associates. Ritika has been involved with various social justice issues such as working for access to healthcare for uninsured migrants, defending our public healthcare system, and upstream policy change on the social determinants of health. She is Chair of the Social Accountability Working Group at the College of Family Physicians of Canada, a Board Member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare and a founding member of the OHIP for All campaign. If you’re interested in learning more about the intersections of social justice, politics and health, you can follow her on Twitter @RitikaGoelTO.”

Chris Brillinger is the Executive Director of the Social Development, Finance & Administration Division, responsible for Social Policy & Research, Community Resources and Financial and Administrative oversight and support for the City’s human services cluster.

An Urban Planner by training, Chris has held a variety of positions in a number of non-governmental organizations prior to joining local government. Several of Chris’s; most recent achievements include the development of the Toronto Seniors Strategy, Toronto Newcomer Strategy, Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020 recommending a new set of priority neighbourhoods for the City of Toronto, TO Prosperity, the poverty reduction strategy for the City of Toronto, and Tenants First: A Way Forward for Toronto Community Housing and Social Housing in Toronto.

Main Sponsor

Global Migration Lab


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Canada Research Chair in Global Migration

Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

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