My book Sanctuary

 Sanctuary: Exclusion, Violence, and Indigenous Migrants in the East Bay


(on Amazon)

When I moved to Santa Clara/San Jose area in 2013, I began volunteering at a church in the East Bay where I taught English as second/another language. The English program was coordinated by a friend of mine from undergrad who had been working as a Missionary in different parts of the San Francisco bay area, moving as gentrification changed the demographic of cities and neighborhoods.

For the the next three years, I worked with the adult students at the church, who were predominantly Indigenous Guatemalans. My time at the church that I call the "Sanctuary" took place in what would become the lead up and presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Surveys and interviews asked students about their perceptions of issues of race in the US with important context about the violence motivating many to migrate.   

From the book's description:

In Sanctuary, Cruz Medina presents a powerful counterstory to dominant narratives surrounding Latin American and Global South im/migration by bringing attention to the displacement of Indigenous Guatemalan Mayas who seek refuge in the United States. These migrants have exchanged gang and narcotrafficker violence for the dehumanizing and exclusionary rhetoric of US political leaders, militarized immigration enforcement, false promises of empowerment through literacy, and further displacement from gentrification. Medina combines decolonial critical race theory with autoethnography to examine white supremacist policies that impact US and transnational Indigenous populations who have been displaced by neocolonial projects of capitalism. 


Taking a Northern California community of migrants from Guatemala as a case study, Medina demonstrates the ways in which immigration policy and educational barriers exclude Indigenous migrant populations. He follows the community at the “Sanctuary”—a Spanish-speaking church in the East Bay Area that serves as a place of worship, English language instruction, and refuge for migrants. Medina assembles participant observations, interviews, surveys, and other data to provide points of entry into intersecting issues of immigration, violence, language, and property and to untangle aspects of citizenship, exclusion, and assumptions about literacy.



 “Sanctuary is a piece of vital scholarship that teaches us how to maintain analytic focus at varying levels of the social scale to address the dangerous colonial nexus of power, while simultaneously introducing us to real people with real names and faces to whom we are fundamentally connected.” —Christina Cedillo, cofounder of the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics

“Sanctuary is rhetorically engaging, emotionally honest, and intellectually accessible. Medina resists reducing complex findings to academically overdetermined and theoretically overwrought explanations. His rich description and grounded analysis open up new insights into questions about geopolitical sanctuary and spiritual sovereignty while humanizing both the author and the stakeholders.” —Michelle Hall Kells, author of Vicente Ximenes, LBJ’s Great Society, and Mexican American Civil Rights Rhetoric

Find it on Amazon and Ohio State University Press

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