Robertson supports Vancouver developing sanctuary city or “access without fear” policy

Mayor Gregor Robertson has endorsed a recommendation of his Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration that Vancouver explore the feasibility of an “access without fear” or sanctuary city policy to ensure people living without immigration status continue to access necessary city services.

The recommendation emerged from a consultation the Working Group convened with a wide range of community organizations and city representatives earlier this year. A key finding: a snap declaration that Vancouver was a “sanctuary city” could create a false sense of security for people who are unaware of the limits of the city’s jurisdiction.

“Vancouver is committed to fostering an open, welcoming and safe environment for people of all backgrounds, and our diversity is fundamental to our city’s success,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The growing Sanctuary City movement in the US provides lessons for ways Vancouver can support people who are living with pending or no immigration status.

“I’m pleased that the Working Group recommends we continue to explore the Sanctuary City concept, and how we can establish ‘access without fear’ policies in Vancouver, while recognizing our city’s limited legal jurisdiction.”

The Working Group proposed that the development of a Vancouver policy be a specific project for a new group convened after the next election. The full report on the group’s activities since 2011 is here.

Workshop attendees noted that while organizations like the Vancouver Police Department fall under City control, groups like transit police do not, and declarations of a ‘Sanctuary City’ without alignment across all sectors would create a false sense of security, and potentially put vulnerable people at greater risk.