Professor Wilcox: How Can Sanctuary Policies be Justified?

Friday, November 15, 2019
Photo of a 2018 anti-deportation protest at SF State with students holding sign that reads Crush ICE
Photo by Sreang Hok

PHILOSOPHY TALK (SAN FRANCISCO) -- In the U.S. there are more than 500 sanctuary cities — municipalities that limit their cooperation with the federal government’s immigration law enforcement. Although opponents portray sanctuary cities as besieged by crime, empirical data does not bear out such claims. But what actually justifies sanctuary policies in the first place? Do appeals to public health or safety warrant these measures? Or should lack of cooperation be seen as an act of resistance against unjust federal policies? And how should local municipalities respond to claims that they lack the authority to impede federal immigration enforcement?

Josh and Ken find sanctuary with Shelley Wilcox from San Francisco State University, author of “How Can Sanctuary Policies be Justified?”

“When we’re talking about people who are integrated into the community, I don’t think citizenship status is a morally relevant, legitimate way to distinguish who gets more and who gets less,” said Wilcox, a professor of Philosophy. “I think the fact that I live here, that this is my community, that I contribute to it and so on — I think that’s the thing that gives me a right.”