Missing Immigrants in the Rhetoric of Sanctuary

64 Pages Posted: 13 May 2021

Date Written: May 2021


The idea of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants started among activists and was soon adopted by governments. In this process, the idea changed. This Article follows sanctuary’s changing moral content by studying the reasons that states and localities give when they adopt “sanctuary” policies limiting their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. One might expect policymakers’ statements to imply concern for the well-being of noncitizens, particularly those who face deportation. We might even expect sanctuaries’ rhetoric to imply that undocumented people should be welcomed as members of the communities in which they reside. In fact, many jurisdictions carefully avoid saying either of those things. This Article examines the implications of these unexpected silences.

Keywords: immigration, sanctuary, rhetoric, undocumented, local government, expressivism

Suggested Citation

Ayers, Ava (formerly Andrew), Missing Immigrants in the Rhetoric of Sanctuary (May 2021). 2021 Wisconsin Law Review 473 (2021), Albany Law School Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3844618

Ava (formerly Andrew) Ayers (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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