Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.


Solidarity City Berlin

Migration & Citizenship Rights

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

Solidarity City addresses a migration policy that they accuse of denying a part of society, namely migrants, refugees, or undocumented people, the right of residence and citizenship, and thus access to basic social, economic, and political rights. Even when these people finally acquire a legal status it is often only of temporary validity and therefore equally leads to precarious living and working conditions.

People without a residency status constantly risk to be convicted because of residency obligations – including potential incarcerations or even deportation. Besides that, regular social or medical services such as health insurance and health care are out of reach. And they do not have access to the legal job market, which gives way to informal jobs without guaranteed access to basic labour rights such as minimum wage and accident insurance. These challenges are increased by language barriers and lack of provided information. Most people do not know about existing rights and services - such as compulsory education - and therefore cannot exercise them. Solidarity City opposes the current migration policies that “exclude a large number of people from active participation; they criminalize and marginalize a significant part of society.”

What has changed?

In their coalition agreement, the Red-Red-Green Berlin federal government announced it would introduce an anonymous healthcare system in the form of a pilot project. It was agreed that healthcare for those without regular residential status would be secured through an anonymous health pass (Anonymer Krankenschein – AK). After long negotiations with Berlin’s federal government and by means of public pressure, the issue is now on the agenda.

An annual sum of € 1.5 million has been allocated in Berlin’s government budget for both personnel and treatment expenses. It was agreed that by 2018, these funds were supposed to be used for setting up a clearinghouse that provides advice on possible ways of obtaining a safe residential status and health care. In cases where none of these options are possible, patients would nevertheless receive an anonymous health pass (AK) that allows them to visit doctors and receive medical treatment.

In November 2018, a statement by Respect Berlin, who are part of Solidarity City Berlin, criticises the fact that the Senate undertook further conceptualisation of the clearinghouse without the involvement of the initiative, and denounces the outcomes of this procedures as opposed to the initial idea of an equal treatment of patients without documents.

How did it happen?

Solidarity City Berlin formed in 2015, inspired by the Sanctuary Cities in Canada and the U.S. By choosing to replace the Christian notion of “sanctuary” with “solidarity”, Solidarity City Berlin makes an even more radical claim. Beyond the provision of shelter for undocumented people, Solidarity City Berlin demands that federal government ensure full participation regardless of one’s legal status as well as access to social infrastructure, a decent life, basic goods and city services. To this aim, they pressure the government through networking, political campaigning and debates held before and during the set-up of the coalition agreement. The particularity of the initiative is that it is composed of people with and without migration experience and actively promotes community building. Its composition and practice ensures the protection of individuals within a community as much as the involvement of those who are directly affected by the limitation of their democratic rights in the agenda setting.