Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

"Sanctuary Cities" and Local Citizenship

Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

"Sanctuary Cities" and Local Citizenship

Article excerpt

"San Francisco has become less like its [sanctuary city] self-image and more like many other cities in the United States: deeply conflicted over how to cope with the fallout of illegal immigration." (1)

I. Four Dimensions of Citizenship and Local Citizenship
     A. Defining Citizenship
     B. Local Citizenship

II. San Francisco's Ordinance
     A. Historical Background
     B. The Bologna Lawsuit
     C. Recent Changes

III. San Francisco's Ordinance and Local Citizenship
     A. Local Citizenship as Legal Status
     B. Citizenship as Rights
     C. Citizenship as Public Engagement
     D. Citizenship as Identity



Citizenship's location is generally understood to reside primarily in the nation-state. (2) Accordingly, the term citizenship (3) typically evokes membership in a particular country. Yet, the concept of citizenship as one only bounded by national borders has long given way to the recognition that there are other places--both outside and within the nation-state--where citizenship is also located. (4) Indeed, as scholars have noted, sub-federal and sub-state spaces such as cities are sites where citizenship, particularly local citizenship or membership, has been articulated, constructed, or contested. (5) Critically, the construction of local citizenship within the larger space over which national citizenship dominates, presents complex legal, theoretical, political, and policy concerns. (6) Among these issues is the potential conflict between rights and privileges of local citizenship with the attendant rights and privileges of national membership. (7)

Perhaps no other area of law best illustrates the tension between local and national citizenship than immigration law, particularly when examining the scope of membership, rights, and privileges of non-citizens. At the outset, the ability of non-citizens to gain full membership to the United States is governed by the federal government through the plenary power of Congress to regulate immigration law. (8) Specifically, through the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") and subsequent amendments. (9) Congress established the terms and conditions upon which non-citizens may be admitted, (10) removed, (11) become eligible for legal permanent residence, (12) and apply for naturalization. (13) Collectively, these provisions within the INA help to define some of the rights and privileges of non-citizens and determine the process by which non-citizens may ultimately become full members of the national polity.

Sub-federal governments that pass laws that are inclusionary (14) or exclusionary (15) of non-citizens, particularly those who are in the United States without authorized immigration status or undocumented immigrants, fundamentally affect the congressionally prescribed rights and privileges of non-citizens. For instance, laws and policies that provide municipal identification cards to all residents, including undocumented immigrants, (16) convey the local government's intent to formally recognize and include them as local citizens. (17) By contrast, laws that deny undocumented immigrants entry into residential leases (18) signal their intent to exclude unauthorized immigrants from local borders, and therefore classify them as nonmembers in the local polity. (19) As these examples illuminate, both categories of laws--inclusionary and exclusionary--affect and shape the meaning of citizenship within the United States.

This Article explores the ways in which sanctuary laws illustrate the tensions between national and local citizenship. Specifically, this Article examines how "sanctuary cities" have arguably constructed membership for undocumented immigrants located within their jurisdictions. Recognizing sanctuary cities as sites of local citizenship for undocumented immigrants takes the first step towards analyzing what implications, if any, these places might have on national citizenship, which may be examined more fully in the future. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.