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Access to health for undocumented residents in cities

November 19, 2020
12:00 PM EST - 1:30 PM EST
Open To
Graham Hudson;
Access to health  for undocumented residents  in cities (Sanctuary: What's Next?)


Nico Delvino, Oxford University


Nadjla Banai, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and Co-chair Network for Uninsured, Canada

Michele LeVoy, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migration (PICUM)

Laura Melgarejo, PODER, USA

Jess Potter, Docs not Cops, UK

Aliya Yule, Patients not Passports, UK

This event is the fifth in the Sanctuary: What next? series and centres on access to healthcare for undocumented residents in cities. The expert panel which includes, doctors, health professionals, activists and policy analysts will address how they have engaged with advancing healthcare access for those without full immigration status across their different contexts. They will reflect on what narratives they have found successful in these campaigns and how they have built political and public consensus. They will also discuss how we can counter interoperable databases that turn healthcare into a site of border control and the opportunities and challenges of working at the local and city level to advance progressive health policies.

About the series:

Sanctuary: What next? series which is a pioneering online seminar series taking place in November 2020. The overall aim is to take stock of and reinvigorate urban strategies of resistance to national and sub-national anti-migrant policies. Speakers include activists, advocates, NGOs, frontline workers and municipal government officials across pioneering sanctuary cities in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

The series will provide a platform to draw connections between the political economy of cities, the security practices at the heart of contemporary racial and colonial capitalism and the migration apparatus. In paying close attention to the messaging, practices, and tactics enacted by these organisers, there is much to learn about both the nature of the contemporary capitalist security state as well as how it might be possible to contest it.


Nadjla Banaei

Nadjla works at South Riverdale Community Health Centre as a Client Care Coordinator, and has over 12 years of experience working in community health. The bulk of Nadjla’s experience has involved supporting individuals experiencing precarious immigration status. She has a thorough understanding of settlement issues, systemic barriers and the social injustices faced by uninsured communities, and is passionate about the mental health and well-being of her clients. Nadjla advocates on a systemic level, while also providing intensive frontline work to reduce barriers to health care and social services.

Michele LeVoy

Michele LeVoy joined PICUM in 2002 and became Director in 2006. She serves on several boards and advisory committees, including Social Platform; Global Coalition of Migration; Civil Society Days of the Global Forum on Migration and Development; and the Women in Migration Network. She holds a Bachelor degree in French and Justice and Peace Studies and a Master in Applied Sciences (Housing and Development Program).

Laura Melgarejo

Laura was born and raised in México, in the state of Michoacán. She migrated at the age of 14 to the United States. Laura is the first generation of her family to attend college and the first organizer in her family. As a student at San Francisco State University, she received a scholarship from the Chicana/Latina Foundation and was a member of the Youth Empowerment Fund Advisory Board of the Department of Children, Youth and their Families. She holds a Master of Public Health from San José State University. Laura was active as a volunteer in efforts to pass legislation (AB 540) that allowed undocumented students to attend college and pay tuition as California residents. In 2003, Laura was recruited as a Youth Organizer for the Common Roots: Youth Organizer Program. She works on environmental health, immigrant rights and language justice issues.

Dr. Jessica Potter

Jessica is a respiratory specialist doctor working in London and qualitative researcher at Queen Mary University of London. Her research explores the link between people’s experiences of healthcare and the structural inequities that shape them – specifically racism and xenophobia. She also campaigns for the healthcare rights of migrants and more broadly against racism in the NHS with grassroots organisations including Docs Not Cops and Medact. In 2019 she was presented with the Champion Award at the Women on the Move Awards for her work on the #PatientsNotPassports campaign.

Aliya Yule

Aliya is the Healthcare for All Migrant Organiser at Migrants Organise, a platform for migrants and refugees to work together for dignity and justice. She works on the Patients Not Passports campaign, organising with migrants, healthcare workers and community groups to end the hostile environment in the NHS.

The organising team:

Sanctuary: What's Next? An International Forum For, With and By Undocumented Migrants is convened by Dr Rachel Humphris (Queen Mary University of London), Graham Hudson (Ryerson University) and Kathy Coll (University of San Francisco). It is part of the project 'Welcoming Cities? Understanding Sanctuary in Securitized States' funded by The Leverhulme Trust, UK.

The series has been organised in partnership with:

Angela Chan, external link, Asian Law Caucus

Kathleen Coll, external link, University of San Francisco

Graham Hudson, Ryerson University Toronto

Rachel Humphris, external link, Queen Mary, University of London 

Syed Hussan, external link, opens in new window, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, @hussansk, external link

Peter Mancina, external link, University of Oxford

Mac Scott, external link, Carranza LLP