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School of Politics and International Relations

The Politics of Refuge: Sanctuary Policies in the US, UK, and Europe

When: Thursday, October 20, 2022, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Where: The Hitchcock Theatre, Arts One Building, Room G.19 Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS, Mile End Campus


This event is organised and sponsored by the City Centre in the School of Geography.

First passed in the United States in the 1980s to limit local participation in immigration enforcement, sanctuary policies have since spread throughout the international system. Advocates for these policies argue they increase immigrant incorporation and carry benefits not only for local immigrant groups, but for the wider community. Opponents argue they foster crime or labor competition and run counter to the national interest. Bringing together experts on sanctuary cities in the US, UK, and Europe, this roundtable will examine how these policies differ based on national context, the existing evidence for the effects they have, and the common cause shared by sanctuary localities, as well as the racialized aspects of immigration enforcement.


Benjamin Gonzalez O’Brien is an Associate Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University. He is the author of two books on U.S. immigration policy Handcuffs and Chain Link: Criminalizing the Undocumented in America (Univ. of Virginia Press, 2018) and Sanctuary Cities: The Politics of Refuge (Oxford UP, 2019).

Raffaele Bazurli is a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Geography of Queen Mary, University of London and at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His research focuses on urban governance and politics, immigrant sanctuary and asylum, and social movements.

Elena Vacchelli is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences at The University of Greenwich. She is the author of Embodied Research in Migration Studies: Creative and Participatory Approaches (Policy Press, 2018).

Sophie Gregory is the Campaigns and Communications Manager for the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network (LRMN). The LRMN have been empowering refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to rebuild their lives since 1992.

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