Claiming the Right to be Present: Serving Migrants with Precarious Legal Status in the Sanctuary City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

In February 2014 Hamilton, Ontario became the second “Sanctuary City” in Canada after Toronto passed a similar motion the year prior. As a Sanctuary City, Hamilton has taken steps to make municipal services accessible to all residents, regardless of immigration status. The policy provides migrants with precarious legal status with access to essential social services, such as primary health care through community health clinics, public housing and food banks. It also encourages these vulnerable people to get help when they need it from the police or a shelter, without fear of having their information passed to the Canada Border Services Agency. Using Toronto as their model, several organizations and individuals known as the Hamilton Sanctuary City Coalition drafted the Sanctuary City motion and presented it to sympathetic city counsellors. As principled and strategic non-governmental actors, the coalition framed the issue to make it comprehensible to the public, to attract positive attention and encourage action. The words “illegal” and “undocumented” were deliberately avoided in an effort to counteract the then Conservative federal government’s description of some migrants and refugees as “illegal,” “unfounded” and “bogus” (Gulli, 2015; Jíminez, 2009) and emphasis was placed on stopping deportations in an effort to keep families together in a family-friendly city.
Wilson-Forsberg, S.
Civil Society Engagement: Achieving Better in Canada, Edited by Patricia M. Daenzer
Publication Date: 
More Info URL:
Stacey Wilson-Forsberg. (2017). Claiming the right to be present: serving migrants with precarious legal status in the sanctuary city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In Daenzer, P.M. (Ed.) Civil Society Engagement: Achieving Better in Canada. Routledge, 2017.
2018-05-25 07:06