The Boundaries of Safety: Building a Grassroots Sanctuary in the Inland Empire

Sanctuary City Sign

Event Date

Andrews Room 2203 Social Sciences and Humanities Building, Zoom

If you wish to attend the seminar virtually, click on Zoom here:

Speaker: Cecilia Vazquez, PhD, Anthropology, ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow


Cecilia Vasquez is an American Council of Learned Societies Postdoctoral Scholar. She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2021. Her research interrogates the California Values Act and identifies the shortcomings of the policy in protecting undocumented immigrants in the Inland Empire. Her research explores how grassroots organizers developed sanctuary practices for addressing immigrant needs in the Inland Empire. Research interests are citizenship and belonging, prison to ICE pipeline, carceral studies, necropolitics, abolition, and fugitive anthropology. 


The Trump administration for many represented drastic ideological shift in American values, and for others he embodied a social threat. In response, many cities, counties, states, and schools proclaimed themselves Sanctuaries to protect their undocumented immigrant community members. The term evokes images of churches operating as a place of refuge with impenetrable walls. The declaration of sanctuary provided an illusion of boundaries and a sense of safety. This presentation will share data from activist-engaged research exploring the sanctuary movement in the Inland Empire in Southern California. The presentation will highlight grassroots strategies and negotiations in developing sanctuary. Ultimately, the data presents the necessity of an abolitionist sanctuary.

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