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  • Writer's pictureJennie Cottle

Policy Shift Report: Immigration Criminalization and the Rise of Sanctuary

This article was published as part of the Latin America Political Outlook series, the annual report published by OPALC (the Latin American Political Observatory), and the Etudes de CERI collection of Sciences Po.


This article will present how the increasing criminalization of immigrants based on decades of restrictive immigration policies by the federal government has contributed to the pushback led by local movements demanding immigration reform and protection. As these movements gain traction, they have been able to work with their local governments to pass policies protecting immigrants in their neighborhoods to the extent they are able to. Although the sanctuary movement today has broadened to include universities, private businesses, and state governments, among others, they share a common objective of dissenting against a system that they believe does not function for millions of undocumented residents in the United States. By taking part in the movement towards “sanctuary”, these actors strive to improve the daily lives of undocumented residents, by increasing their access to employment, education and other services, and by recognizing their contribution to the country’s development overall.

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