Montreal’s Sanctuary Policy for Non-Status Migrants: Opportunity and Obstacles




Montreal, Canada, sanctuary city, non-status migrants, jurisdiction, police


In February 2017, the city of Montreal adopted a policy entitled Access to Municipal Services Without Fear with a view to allowing non-status migrants to access some municipal programs and services without fear of being arrested and removed from Canada. This article offers a critical analysis of the city of Montreal’s policy. We discuss the main barriers to implementation, namely, the limited jurisdictional power and authority of the city in migration matters and the municipal police’s refusal to comply with the policy. We draw on the conceptual framework of the sanctuary city to argue that the municipality crafted creative solutions to barriers as part of its bid to make the city more inclusive.

Author Biographies

Idil Atak, Toronto Metropolitan University

Idil Atak is Associate Professor at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law, Toronto Metropolitan University. She can be reached at

Graham Hudson, Toronto Metropolitan University

Graham Hudson is Professor and Associate Dean, Academic at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law, Toronto Metropolitan University. He can be reached at


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How to Cite

Atak, I., & Hudson, G. (2022). Montreal’s Sanctuary Policy for Non-Status Migrants: Opportunity and Obstacles. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 38(2), 1–13.