This dissertation provides a historical and anthropological analysis of sanctuary-city policy formation, power, and governance in San Francisco, California. This dissertation focuses on the discourses, practices, tactics, policies, protocols, and political maneuvers that municipal employees create and utilize in their power struggles with each other and with immigrant-serving community-based organizations, undocumented immigrants, and state and federal officials. The dissertation examines the municipal sanctuary-city practices and municipal deportation practices city government officials bureaucratically implement as a result of such power struggles over sanctuary-city policy. It examines rational, legal, and moral grounds on which these actors formulate proposals for, define, codify, and justify these sanctuary-city practices.
The thesis of this dissertation is that in San Francisco, during the period analyzed from 1980-2010, the legislation and implementation of governmental sanctuary-city policy and practices functioned to achieve a multi-faceted and seemingly contradictory governmental logic - sanctuary-power - of linking municipal practices of serving and politically representing all residents regardless of immigration status with the programmatic demands of the state and federal government. This included first and foremost, clarifying how municipalities might relate to the federal deportation regime by defining the conditions when it is appropriate and when it is inappropriate for city employees to initiate contact with federal immigration authorities and initiate the deportation proceedings of undocumented San Francisco residents. In so doing, both governmental sanctuary practices and municipal deportation practices were continually clarified, routinized, codified in policy, institutionalized, and normalized with the expressed purpose of safeguarding the sanctuary city. Through the exercise of sanctuary-power and the implementation of sanctuary-city policies, the city not only stabilized undocumented immigrant lives, but also tore immigrant families apart by assisting immigration authorities in detaining and deporting thousands of San Francisco residents. This dissertation is based on qualitative and quantitative ethnographic field research, archival research, and extensive public records requests and analysis.