Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Under the current administration, sanctuary cities have too often become a target for federal immigration enforcement rather than places of safety for families and individuals who should be a low priority for law enforcement resources.
An interdisciplinary team at Northeastern University is currently investigating whether the sanctuary designation helps members of immigrant communities feel safe, building community resilience. Participating scholars are conducting research in several formally designated safe communities, asking “In what ways do sanctuary cities impact perceptions and experiences of safety and inclusion not only for residents who might avail themselves of sanctuary, but for other residents as well, particularly members of marginalized social groups?”
As one aspect of the project, Professors Serena Parekh (Philosophy) and Martha Davis (Law) recently released a White Paper on the philosophical justifications that support sanctuary designations. In sum, the authors argue that a legitimate government must ensure that all residents (not citizens alone) can access basic rights like food, water, elementary education, and the mechanisms of justice like the courts. This argument dovetails with the provisions of human rights law, which explicitly extend basic protections to all residents of a state, regardless of their contingent legal status within the state. Building on the philosophical analysis, the authors offer suggestions about the scope of effective sanctuary provisions that would meet human rights and philosophical standards.
We have to ask: Will Philosophy defeat the pernicious policies of the current DOJ?
Not likely, at least in the short term. But at the same time, there are good reasons to expose the illegitimacy of the current administration's immigration policies at every opportunity, and the White Paper is intended to contribute to this effort.