Let’s Give Cities A Greater Role In Managing Migration | Harald Bauder

Worth reflecting upon:

National migration policies play an important part in ordering our society based on origin and status. Canadian temporary foreign workers and international mobility programs have resulted in more than 350,000 foreign workers living in Canada in 2014, often without the same economic rights and entitlements that Canadian citizens take for granted — including the right to stay.

Cities have a different approach to migration. They are not in the business of controlling who crosses and settles within their boundaries, or ordering their communities based on where residents are coming from. Rather, their role is to be inclusive and provide access to resources and services for all residents.

Granted, some city administrations are eager to enforce national migration policies and actively participate in the border regime. Research by my colleague at York University, Liette Gilbert, shows how smaller towns such as Hérouxville, Quebec, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, have introduced measures that erode the rights of migrants and control their presence.

Many other cities, however, resist exclusionary national policies and border regimes. For example, by declaring themselves sanctuary cities, Toronto and Hamilton have recognized that the residents who are denied status by national policies are nevertheless members of their communities. In this way, dozens of sanctuary cities throughout North America are seeking to build inclusive urban communities in which all residents can equally participate — independent of the order which border regimes impose.

In a globalized world, nation states are increasingly failing to cope with the human need for security and desire to migrate.

Urban communities are also highly responsive to global developments and the need for people to migrate for work and opportunity, and to escape from war and oppression. Take Lifeline Syria as an example: this initiative was spearheaded by civic leaders of Greater Toronto to mobilize fellow residents to sponsor Syrian refugee families and help these families settle in their communities. While the federal government is an important partner in this initiative, it is the urban community that has demonstrated leadership.

Cities are demanding a greater role in managing migration and are asserting their independence from national migration policies that disenfranchise large portions of their residents.

In a globalized world, nation states are increasingly failing to cope with the human need for security and desire to migrate. As cities fill this void, they must maintain their inclusive approach and resist being absorbed into the deadly border regime.

Source: Let’s Give Cities A Greater Role In Managing Migration | Harald Bauder

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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