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Rescaling the Sanctuary City: Police and Non-Status Migrants in Ontario, Canada

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-11, 17:56 authored by Mia HershkowitzMia Hershkowitz, Graham Hudson, Harald BauderHarald Bauder
Abstract The sanctuary city movement is aimed at limiting the local enforcement of federal immigration law. Canadian cities have joined this movement by pledging a) to provide access to municipal services without regard to immigration status, and b) to not share information identifying non-status migrants with federal immigration authorities. Despite these promises, local police continue to cooperate with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Continued cooperation raises questions about the capacity of cities to honour these promises. This paper shares the results of a preliminary study of the policing of non-status migrants in the Canadian province of Ontario. Relying on interviews with high-ranking police officers in eight local jurisdictions, the authors analyze police perceptions regarding their role in the enforcement of federal immigration law as well as their obligations to honour the spirit and the substance of sanctuary city policies. The study reveals that many police officers believe they possess legal authority to report non-status migrants to federal authorities where, in fact, this authority does not exist. The authors argue that this belief rests on a host of misconceptions about the relationship between criminal law and immigration law, claims of jurisdictional immunity from municipal government, and distortions of the historic, foundational principles of policing in Canada. The authors argue that greater protection of the rights and privacy of non-non-status migrants requires at a minimum a rescaling of sanctuary policies to the provincial level, where policing may be subject to more stringent laws and regulations. Keywords: Sanctuary City; securitization of migration; crimmigration; non-status migrants; policing; scale; jurisdiction



John Shields