By: Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz and Reyna Wences
What is the main purpose of your study?
This essay traces a community campaign to free a Chicago man from immigrant detention and discover why Chicago’s sanctuary policy did not protect him from arrest.
What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
This study shows how the criminalization of immigrants by local police exposes Chicago residents to deportation and belies Chicago’s promise to be an immigrant sanctuary.
How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
This essay puts geographical analyses of urban policies into conversation with community-based work on racialized policing.
What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
This study shows how immigrants remain vulnerable to deportation within sanctuary zones, it describes findings from a coalitional campaign to erase Chicago’s gang database that illustrate the racialized and arbitrary characteristics of Chicago policing, and it shows how local activists can make meaningful strides toward stronger sanctuary protections in the context of a hostile federal administration.
What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
Theoretically, we mine Walker’s (2015) argument that scale, place, and networks together constitute local immigration-related policies. We show how Chicago politicians promote a place-based image of the city as cosmopolitan, progressive, and inclusive, while its scalar policing practices expose Chicago residents to deportation. We show how community organizers were able to exploit this apparent contradiction to push Chicago politicians to pass stronger sanctuary legislation, creating a coalitional network of undocumented Latinx and Black activists.
How does your research help us think about Geography?
By bringing together analyses of sanctuary, policing, and resistance, this article helps illuminates the complex and multi-layered processes that together comprise urban immigration politics.