Every house a sanctuary

Fighting displacement on all fronts in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Joshua Mullenite

Published in Issue 2.1 // Updates

Keywords: gentrification; displacement; immigration; rezoning; Brooklyn


The right to housing has been a key focus for both immigrant rights and anti-gentrification activists in the United States. In this update, I highlight the ways in which these come together in the neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York. In 2019, the neighborhood was specifically targeted in a series of raids by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement resulting in a rapid mobilization of existing anti-gentrification networks to protect those vulnerable. I argue that this mobilization and its success highlights contradictions in liberal, pro-immigrant rights discourses that ignore the increasing threat of gentrification in “sanctuary cities.” Recognizing and exploiting this contradiction provides a way forward for thinking about secure housing as a requirement for sanctuary.


Joshua Mullenite is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. His research examines the political ecologies of infrastructure and the afterlives of industrial spaces.

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