Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program

Political Studies

Project Advisor 1

Ken Haig

Abstract/Artist's Statement


By focusing on the City of Toronto, this inquiry seeks to provide account of the developing sanctuary city movement in Canada and to provide explanation for where, when and how sanctuary policy emerged in the city. I argue that migrant justice mobilization has become the principal catalyst of the development of sanctuary city in Canada. The steps I take are threefold. First, I engage in a theory analysis in my first chapter. I discuss the theoretical lenses I will use to understand the frameworks involved in Canadian immigration policy and the counter-hegemonic discourse employed by migrant justice activists. Chapter 2 serves as a historical analysis that meditates on the evolution of exclusion in Canada’s immigration policies from Post-WWII Canada to the Post-9/11 world. I highlight how discretionary powers accorded to the executive’s bureaucracy have preserved and augmented national security, criminality and neoliberal concerns in immigration policies. These “state-centric” developments have made Canadian immigration policy increasingly exclusionary in the 60 years after the Second World War. The third chapter provides an account of Toronto as an emerging sanctuary city, concentrating on access to education for all city residents, irrespective of immigration status. Using policy outcome analysis, I discuss in this chapter various strategies that No One is Illegal and its partners in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Campaign have taken to create a sanctuary city education policy and expand access to education in the city. This concluding analysis details the success of migrant justice mobilization in passing a “human-centric” policy as Toronto’s and Canada’s first city-wide sanctuary city policy.

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