One implicit policy that has been implemented in the city of Chicago yet is currently under attack is that which designates Chicago as a “Sanctuary City”. A Sanctuary City chooses to be more inclusive of undocumented immigrants by protecting employees from being asked directly about their immigration status. This policy took the form as an executive order in Chicago ordered by Mayor Harold Washington in 1985. Why does this relate to sustainability? From a social sustainability perspective, it is a policy (by way of executive order) to allow immigrants a place to work without immediate deportation. The purpose of this policy is to allow more people into the labor force of the city and boost the economy, but it indirectly allows climate refugees into the conversation, something that the UN Habitat III Conference discussed this past month.
Over time, this policy may not have changed, but its implementation has. Under the Obama presidency, more people have been deported than in the history of the United States. There have been more efforts to suppress these sanctuary cities by defunding them, especially after the election of Donald Trump.
An important thing to consider is that this is an urban and international issue because it highlights the hardships that refugees and immigrants need to go through in order to get to the city in the first place, as now there are many places that are geographically suffering from climate change or other socially and politically unsustainable hardships. The UN Habitat III report speaks on the need for cities to be more powerful in their ability to protect human rights and people of the world. I find this to be an interesting topic of the time, and this will continue to be an issue that will have serious backlash no matter what happens in the coming months.
Course readings – White House: Climate Change is a National Security Issue
Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Financing the New Urban Agenda
Resettling the First American “Climate Refugees”
5 Things You Need to Know About ‘Sanctuary Cities’