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Immediately after the presidential election, mayors across the country have taken a bold public stance, declaring their cities to be “sanctuary cities,” and vowing to protect their cities' residents against the potential harsh policies that are anticipated to come from the new federal administration and Congress. Throughout the country, we also see a heightened increase of hate violence and racially charged rhetoric in the media against immigrants, including calls for banning Muslims, stronger immigration enforcement, and the dismantling of the key deportation-deferral program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
While the frame of sanctuary cities is designed as protection for undocumented and migrant residents, it also offers an opportunity to engage us all in critical questions about how we shape our democracy and local places: What makes a city a sanctuary? Sanctuary for whom and from what? Many community organizations are using a broader Rebel Cities framework, as well as the newly-launched #FreedomCities, which redefines what safety and freedom truly mean for communities.
Elected officials, government agencies, residents, non-profits, grantmakers, and local businesses all have a role to play in shaping cities that are safe for all residents. For local grantmakers who are deeply embedded in their communities, and regional, state, and national grantmakers of all kinds who support community power-building for the most impacted communities, better alignment with our grantmaking is critical to further strengthen our investments within a region. Philanthropy has a role in leveraging existing organizations working on cross-cutting campaigns like immigration reform, economic development, and affordable housing to build upon emergent work that addresses the threat to undocumented residents. Although large urban centers and more progressive public figures have been leading on sanctuary cities, under-resourced and conservative smaller towns and rural areas are grappling with similar immigration issues that need more exploration.
- Carl Lipscombe | Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
- Kimi Lee | Bay Resistance
- Lizeth Chacon | Colorado People's Alliance
- Rachael DeCruz | Center for Social Inclusion (CSI)
- Greg Casar | Local Progress Board Member and Austin City Council Member
- Opening remarks by Alexandra Desautels, The California Endowment, and member of NFG’s Democratizing Development Program