Border Struggles, Political Unity, and the Transformative Power of the Local: US Sanctuary Cities and Spain’s Cities of Refuge
This article draws on theoretical insights about bordering and citizenship as strategies for socially constructing difference and the scholarship on scalar challenges underlying contemporary bordering to analyze sanctuary cities in the United States and cities of refuge in Spain. We argue that these initiatives challenge and resist restrictive national migration policies from below, at the local level, with attention to their implications at the global scale. Such policies have the potential to create meaningful social change by 1) amplifying and producing political unity across socially constructed differences and 2) “scaling down” migration politics from the national to the local level and, simultaneously, “jumping scale” via reliance on human rights framings. We conclude that sanctuary city and city-of-refuge designations are not merely symbolic; instead, these designations can be conceived of as locally based, global repertoires of action that make positive contributions in pursuit of social justice.
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