Comparing Urban Citizenship, Sanctuary Cities, Local Bureaucratic Membership, and Regularizations

Date01 May 2019
Published date01 May 2019
Comparing Urban Citizenship, Sanctuary Cities, Local Bureaucratic Membership, and Regularizations 443
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 3, pp. 443–446. © 2019 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13029.
David Kaufmann
University of Bern
Comparing Urban Citizenship, Sanctuary Cities, Local
Bureaucratic Membership, and Regularizations
Abstract: Irregular migrants tend to live in dense urban settings. Cities respond to this phenomenon with a variety of
urban immigration and citizenship policies in support of irregular migrants. These urban policies produce a disparity
between local inclusion and national exclusion. This article describes and compares such urban policies, namely, urban
citizenship, sanctuary cities, local bureaucratic membership, and regularizations. Urban citizenship serves as the
normative foundation of these policies because it claims membership for all people who inhabit a city. Regularization
programs confer national residency status on irregular migrants. Pro-immigration actors favor this policy; however,
when regularizations are not possible, cities can turn to sanctuary city and local bureaucratic membership policies. It is
important for practitioners to comprehend and engage with these types of urban policies since they are likely to travel to
cities worldwide.
The intertwined trends of globalization,
migration, and urbanization establish cities
as sites of migration. Cities worldwide are
experiencing a growing population of irregular
migrants who tend to live in dense urban areas
because of the higher likelihood of finding jobs and
suitable accommodations; better access to relational,
ethnic, social, or cultural networks; and greater
anonymity (Lee 2017). City governments feel a
certain immediacy to support, protect, and regularize
irregular migrants because they “are de facto members
of the community—they work in the city, pay local
taxes, are homeowners, tenants, or landlords in the
city, send their children to local schools, attend
city churches, shop in the city, etc.” (de Graauw
2014, 312). Thus, cities perceive irregular migrants
as regular participants in the everyday life of their
communities and not as abstract illegal constructs
(Varsanyi 2006). Based on the concept of jus domicili
(membership upon residence), certain cities perceive
themselves as an alternative locus of economic,
social, and political membership for all types of
Irregular migrants have become an urban policy
target group. Cities engage in the formulation
and implementation of a variety of migration and
citizenship policies in support of irregular migrants,
although they do not possess the legal power to
expand these migrants’ de jure rights. By formulating
these policies, often in cooperation with local
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Sidney
2014), cities can take a direct policy stance against
national immigration and citizenship policies (Bauder
2017; de Graauw 2014). This is especially the case as
national policies that target irregular migrants in the
Global North have become stricter (de Haas, Natter,
and Vezzoli 2016). Conflicting urban and national
policies toward irregular migrants produce a disparity
between local inclusion and national exclusion
(Bauder 2017; de Graauw 2014; Gebhardt 2016;
Varsanyi 2006).
Urban policies toward irregular migrants often
confront or complement national policies, and they
challenge national sovereignty over immigration and
citizenship. It is not a new phenomenon, however,
that cities are at the forefront of addressing societal
problems. Cities are arenas where societal problems
accentuate themselves and where socioeconomic
transformations, developments, and problems first
manifest themselves (Magnusson 2011). Thus,
addressing societal problems is a constant urban
policy task. Urban policy making operates within
the tension of complying with the policies of higher-
tier governments and formulating progressive and
problem-oriented policies; this tension is apparent in
different urban policy fields, such as environmental
(Hughes 2017; Sapotichne and Jones 2012) or drug
policy (Kübler and Wälti 2001).
The goal of this article is to describe and compare
the existing variety of urban immigration and
citizenship policies toward irregular migrants. This
article elaborates on the ambiguously used concepts,
policies, and practices that exist on the ground and
David Kaufmann is a postdoctoral
researcher in the KPM Center for Public
Management, University of Bern,
Stephen E. Condrey
and Tonya Neaves,
Associate Editors

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT