For the past few weeks, I have been deep into records relating to the 1980s sanctuary movement in the United States. This movement, which has been recalled in recent years as a result of renewed efforts to protect refugees and present-day undocumented migrants, consisted of a loose coalition of churches that offered refuge to arriving migrants from Central America (largely Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador) in the face of the Reagan administration’s ruthless foreign policy and its related refusal to consider people fleeing from the region as refugees.
As I research, I have been thinking about the significance of time to the refugee experience. Depending on the number of days spent in refuge, the experience of sanctuary can become almost carceral. At the same time (no pun intended), refugees need time to prepare asylum claims and convince adjudicating authorities of their need for refuge.
Using the concept of time as a signifier of a particular kind of experience, I would like to use this post to consider the significance of doodles I came across while exploring the Miriam Davidson Papers held in Special Collections at the University of Arizona. Davidson was both a reporting journalist and a participant in the sanctuary movement of the 1980s. Her research notes, which I have been mining, informed the writing of Convictions of the Heart: Jim Corbett and the Sanctuary Movement (University of Arizona Press, 1988) that details the background, unfolding, and impact of the federal prosecution of the sanctuary movement.