Sanctuary Cities: From the Dirty Wars to the War against Immigrants and Black Bodies

Sanctuary Cities: From the Dirty Wars to the War against Immigrants and Black Bodies

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Jul. 12 1:30 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jul. 12 2:30 PM (Eastern)

What does a sanctuary movement, policy, and advocacy look at when it is grounded in liberation for us all? What are the challenges and pitfalls? This panel will delve into the history of the sanctuary movement in the U.S. as well as the recent sanctuary movement in response to mass deportations and the current administration’s hostile policies towards immigrants, Muslims and people of color. Panelists will discuss the history of the movement providing sanctuary to those fleeing US-supported dictatorships in Latin America and provide an overview of the current landscape of sanctuary work.


Elica Vafaie


Elica’s work has focused on immigrant rights, national security, nonprofit capacity building, and cross-movement building. Prior to joining Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Elica worked as the supervising attorney to establish the University of California Undocumented Legal Services Center providing free immigration legal services and know your rights training to mixed status UC students and their families across California. She was the Project Director of the One Nation Initiative at the California Community Foundation (CCF) in Los Angeles where she managed the first philanthropic program in Southern California to support Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian community civic engagement, policy advocacy, as well as nonprofit capacity building. At CCF, Elica also supported the Civic Engagement Department’s efforts around immigrant integration and immigrant rights.

Elica received her B.A. from UC Irvine and Sciences Po, Paris. She received her J.D from UC Davis School of Law, where she was active in the Immigration Law Clinic, Middle Eastern South Asian Law Student Association, and was a UC Human Rights Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Elica is an alum of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and a 2015-2016 German Marshall Memorial Fellow. She is also the current President of the Iranian American Bar Association Northern California Chapter


Avideh Moussavian

Avideh Moussavian’s advocacy at NILC focuses on reducing the vulnerability of low-income immigrants to deportation on account of their race, class, or gender. She has previously worked on immigration reform advocacy and state and local enforcement issues at the New York Immigration Coalition and directly represented immigrant victims of gender-based violence at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, including those in detention. She has served on the board of Families for Freedom, an anti-deportation community organizing network in New York City, and as a visiting professional with the Office of Public Counsel for Defense at the International Criminal Court. She holds a juris doctor from Boston University School of Law and a bachelor of arts from Columbia University.

Other sessions: Moving Forward: Repealing the Muslim Ban for Good

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Blanca Pacheco

Blanca Pacheco

Blanca Pacheco is the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia’s Co-Director
She is originally from Ecuador and has lived in Philadelphia for 20 years. She is a passionate community organizer and has been working with the immigrant community since 2006, first as the Program Coordinator at Open Borders Project where she taught computer classes and coordinated the education program. Blanca was a founding member of NSM. As a member, she helped create Know Your Rights trainings, the storytelling project, and attended New Leadership School. She soon joined the Board and in 2012 came on as a community organizer with NSM. She was part of the successful campaign to stop collaboration between Philadelphia Police and ICE, and has helped grow the organization over the last 10 years. In 2010, she was honored with the Bread and Roses Emerging Leader Award.

Azadeh Shahshahani

Azadeh Shahshahani

Azadeh Shahshahani, Legal and Advocacy Director with Project South, advances a practice of movement lawyering, focused on confronting state repression and dismantling systems of surveillance, incarceration, and deportation. Azadeh has organized for two decades to protect and defend migrants and Black and Muslim communities from systemic lslamophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Black racism. She also provides support to social justice movements in the Global South, from Brazil to Palestine.

Azadeh is a past president of the National Lawyers Guild. She currently serves on the Advisory Council of the American Association of Jurists.

She is the author or editor of several groundbreaking human rights reports as well as law review articles and book chapters focused on movement lawyering, immigrants’ rights, surveillance of Muslim-Americans, and using the international human rights framework as a tool for liberation. Her writings have appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, MSNBC, Time Magazine, Boston Review, Slate, and Los Angeles Times, among others.

Azadeh received her JD from the University of Michigan Law School where she was Article Editor for The Michigan Journal of International Law. She also has a Master’s in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan.

She is the recipient of the Shanara M. Gilbert Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the US Human Rights Network Human Rights Movement Builder Award, the Emory Law School Outstanding Leadership in the Public Interest Award, the University of Georgia Law School Equal Justice Foundation Public Interest Practitioner Award, and the Emory University MLK Jr. Community Service Award, among several other recognitions. She has also been recognized as an Abolitionist by the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University & the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

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