When the Summer 2017 issue of YES! Magazine goes to press, Donald Trump will have been president for three months. Trump’s 100-day action plan includes canceling federal funding to Sanctuary Cities, those that refuse to hand over immigrants for deportation or require proof of legal status to receive city services. The Trump plan also calls for deporting more than 2 million “illegal” immigrants, and blocking refugees from terror-prone regions. Over the past year, he has suggested keeping a registry of Muslims in the U.S., and his supporters have pointed to the internment of Japanese Americans 75 years ago as a precedent for that. The nation has faced these constitutional and moral issues around immigrants and refugees again and again in its history, and YES! will focus on what communities and individuals can do to offer sanctuary to our neighbors.
Some subjects we’d like to explore in the Summer 2017 issue of YES!:
The personal choices ahead: We will explore the idea of compassion as an act of defiance, and what motivates people to act, especially when the stakes are high. How have people stayed with their convictions—or abandoned them? Why didn’t communities rise up to protect their Japanese and Japanese-American neighbors when U.S. soldiers came for them? What could they have done, and where would that courage have come from? In recent news, tech experts are refusing to create a database to register Muslims. What other examples of personal resistance are emerging?
Big city defiance. “Chicago will always be a sanctuary city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared. Big cities— the economic and cultural engines of the country—have vowed to defy Trump’s orders. Chicago; Santa Fe; Seattle; Boston; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; Denver; Washington, D.C., Philadelphia. The state of California has said it will not comply with federal deportation laws. The leader of California’s resistance will be the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, son of working-class immigrants from Mexico. This will be a test of city and state’s rights that could have ramifications in later years under a more progressive federal government. How is citizen activism driving these policy stances? How will residents benefit from this defiance, and how will the grassroots respond to the inevitable federal pushback?
Small towns, too. In Iowa, at least 26 of the state’s 99 counties are deemed sanctuaries—including some of the state’s most conservative. We would like to learn more about the small sanctuary towns, willing to defy the federal government to protect their valuable, immigrant residents. Why did those communities make this choice? And what is it like for immigrant families, as well as community members opposed to the sanctuary declaration?
And within communities: churches and colleges . The idea of sanctuary has its roots in Judeo-Christian teachings. Both the sanctuary movement of the 1980s which formed to aid Central American refugees and the new sanctuary movement that began in 2007 started when places of worship offered refuge for immigrants facing deportation. There are at least 50 congregations across the United States offering sanctuary, and now colleges are mobilizing to declare themselves places of sanctuary. Can these community-based efforts be scaled, and how do they manage in cities that are opposed to sanctuary?
Community civil disobedience strategies: Local sanctuary laws are a form of collective direct action. CELDF has pointed to defending the rights of localities to self-govern—and make sanctuary laws—as part of its community bill of rights work to thwart state preemption. There is proof that an engaged citizenry can affect politics, judicial outcomes, and cultural change. In the 1980s the Sanctuary Trials spurred demonstrations at INS facilities in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York City, and Tucson, among other places. These actions helped turn the tide toward eventual policies of amnesty. What community actions will best build support for compassionate immigration policy?
History repeats. The idea of the United States as a safe haven for immigrants helps the modern sanctuary movement see itself as part of a larger transnational community that takes its place in history beside resistance movements such as the Underground Railroad and the housing of Jews during World War II. Can this historical context guide us in the work ahead?
How to help. Beyond sanctuary laws, what can communities and individuals do to help the vulnerable when government steps over a collective moral line?
We’re looking for stories that address useful solutions at all levels, from policies to communities to individuals. We’re especially interested in stories that show creative solutions already in place. Do you have an idea for a reported feature, deeply researched think piece, or personal essay that belongs in this issue of YES! Magazine? Send pitches and leads to [email protected] and put “sanctuary” in the subject line.