Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sonya Atalay

Second Advisor

Amanda Walker-Johnson

Third Advisor

Kimberlee Perez

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


The Trump administration for many represented drastic ideological shift in American values, and for others he embodied a social threat to their lives. 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 dissertation interrogates the meanings of sanctuary and how the Inland Empire in Southern California, implemented and created sanctuary. By analyzing the California Values Act and working alongside organizers in the Inland Empire, this research identifies barriers in developing sanctuary in this region.

This dissertation answers the research question of the implementation and practice of sanctuary utilizing community-based research methods to investigate sanctuary in the Inland Empire. I worked alongside the leading grassroots organizations that developed, trained, and coordinated sanctuary practices for the region. Through functioning participation, semi-structured interviews with activists and previously detained individuals, and community projects; I saw first-hand the barriers and resiliency of communities advocating for immigrant rights and walked alongside those directly impacted by detention.

The epicenter of the research and sanctuary organizing is and was Adelanto Detention Facility, the largest for-profit facility on the west coast. Ultimately, the research affirms the need for an abolitionist sanctuary, a movement that is intersectional with Black Lives Matter, end of policing, and the abolition of all forms of incarceration. Without an intersectional movement, justice for immigrants is unattainable because of the immigration systems entanglement with other oppressive systems that marginalize a vast array of social communities in the US.

Building on the literature of migration studies, this research unveils the logics and systems of domination that frame belonging. The logics of domination and systems of violence are a result of the US empire-state that shapes migration and US migration policies today. The culmination of these methods offered a deep analysis of the structures of US empire-state, belonging, and sanctuary.