SANCTUARY CITY and U.S. Immigration Reform

In This Episode

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok debuted her new play, Sanctuary City, Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in the fall of 2021. The drama follows B and G, two best friends, both undocumented immigrants. After 9/11, B’s mom decides to return to her country of origin, but the U.S. is the only home B has ever known. As he decides whether to stay or leave, G might be able to offer him a solution. How much are they each willing to sacrifice?

Sanctuary City puts U.S. immigration policy and the people it affects under a microscope and humanizes the stories behind the legalese. Host Ruthie Fierberg, along with Majok and experts Katherine Benton-Cohen (Author Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission & Its Legacy), Carolina Canizales (Immigration Legal Resource Center), and Christian Pinochet-Paul (Presidents’ Alliance) discuss the evolution of immigration policy in the United States to present day, potential reforms to make policies more humane, where immigrants can find support, and more.


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About Our Guests:

Ruthie Fierberg, Host 

IG: @whywetheater / T: @whywetheater

IG: @ruthiefierceberg / T: @RuthiesATrain


Martyna Majok, playwright

Martyna Majok was born in Bytom, Poland and raised in Jersey and Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play, Cost of Living. Other plays include Queens and Ironbound. Other awards include The Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Play, The Greenfield Prize, as the first female recipient in drama, The Champions of Change Award from the NYC Mayor’s Office, The Francesca Primus Prize, two Jane Chambers Playwriting Awards, The Lanford Wilson Prize, The Lilly Award’s Stacey Mindich Prize, Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play from The Helen Hayes Awards, Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, ANPF Women’s Invitational Prize, David Calicchio Prize, Global Age Project Prize, NYTW 2050 Fellowship, NNPN Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, and Merage Foundation Fellowship for The American Dream. Martyna studied at Yale School of Drama, Juilliard, University of Chicago, and Jersey public schools. She was a 2012-2013 NNPN playwright-in-residence, the 2015-2016 PoNY Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center, and a 2018-2019 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. Martyna is currently writing a musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby, with music by Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett, and developing an original series for HBO based on her play, Queens. Twitter: @martynamajok

Katherine Benton-Cohen, PhD, professor of history and author

Katie, as she is known to us, is professor of history at Georgetown University.  Her most recent book is Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy (Harvard, 2018). She is also the author of Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard 2009), which was the basis for her work as historical advisor for the much-acclaimed documentary feature film, Bisbee ’17. Her interests include the history of the American West, race and immigration, and women and gender in the United States. She is now working on a global history of the Phelps-Dodge family, whose capitalist and philanthropic links between New York, the US-Mexico Borderlands, and the Middle East profoundly changed each region. Twitter: @guprofbc 

Carolina Canizales, Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Carolina is the Senior Texas Strategist at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. In her role, she helps build organizing and advocacy capacity to fight back the criminalization, incarceration, and deportation of immigrant communities in Texas. Previously, she led United We Dream’s deportation defense program. Carolina has led advocacy campaigns for more than 200 families facing deportation. Since 2015, she has anchored multiple local campaigns to end police-ICE contracts and to reduce over policing and discriminatory arrests across Texas. Carolina has co-authored Deportation Defense: A Guide for Members of Congress and Other Elected Officials (2014) and Ending Local Collaboration with ICE (2015). Carolina has a B.A. in Communications and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Twitter: @the_ILRC

Christian Penichet-Paul, Presidents’ Alliance

Christian is the Director of the Higher Ed Immigration Portal at the Presidents’ Alliance for Higher Education and Immigration. Most recently, Christian was the Policy and Advocacy Manager at the National Immigration Forum. Christian’s expertise includes providing analysis on legislative proposals and federal and state immigration policies, developing strategic messaging and products, and conducting legislative and administrative advocacy. Twitter: @donchristian92


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