Our cities have long been a destination for immigrants, who bring economic, social and cultural benefits to our communities. There are numerous policies and programs cities can adopt to better welcome and integrate immigrants. These include:
- Center your city’s immigrant population in policymaking.
- Do not participate in the enforcement of federal civil immigration law. For more information, see our page on Immigration Enforcement.
- Support immigrant communities with words and actions.
- Institutionalize supportive services, such as an Office of Immigrant Affairs.
- Ensure language access to all local government services.
- Protect low wage workers, who are disproportionately immigrants, and support entrepreneurs and local small businesses, as immigrants are more likely to start businesses.
- Improve access to the banking system and provide financial education.
- Provide legal aid or advice on immigration status and citizenship issues.
See the examples tab for ways cities are adopting these approaches, and the Resources tab for more detailed information.
Resident Leadership Academies, WE Global Network, January 26th, 2018.
Local Confidentiality Policies, Local Progress: The National Municipal Policy Network, January 26th, 2018.
Language Access, Local Progress: The National Municipal Policy Network, January 26th, 2018.
Local Options for Protecting Immigrants, Lena Graber, Angie Junck, and Nikki Marquez, , Immigrant Legal Resource Center, January 26th, 2018.
Seeds of Growth, Welcoming America, January 26th, 2018.
The New ‘Digital’ Sanctuaries, Tanvi Misra, CityLab, November 14th, 2017.
Immigrants Establishing Roots in New Gateway Cities, Mike Maciag, Governing, March 1st, 2016.
Who We Are: Municipal ID cards as a local strategy to promote belonging and shared community identit, The Center for Popular Democracy, December 1st, 2013.
All Immigration is Local, Michael Jones-Correa, Center for American Progress, September 1st, 2011.
Partnership for New American Economy.
New American Economy brings together more than 500 mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today.
Cities for Action.
CITIES FOR ACTION is a coalition of over 150 mayors and municipal leaders fighting for federal immigration reform, and galvanizing the movement by launching inclusive policies and programs at the local level.
Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. They believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors who are vital to the success of our communities and s
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national, and internationa
The National Immigration Law Center.
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) engages in policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to promote a vision of "a society in which all people — regardless of race, gender, immigration or economic status — are treated fairly and humanely
Bank On Cities, Bank On Cities.
Support immigrant communities with words and actions:
- A Message from Sam: We’ve Got Your Back,” Mayor Sam Liccardo, Office of the Mayor, San Jose, CA, January 26th, 2018. Read more.
- Jersey City a beacon of hope despite anti-immigrant rhetoric elsewhere, Mayor Steven Fulop, NJ.com, January 28th, 2017. Read more.
- Mayor Kasim Reed Welcomes You to the City of Atlanta, Welcoming Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of Atlanta, GA, January 26th, 2018. Read more.
- New PSA Campaign to Support Muslim Residents, Visitors, Mayor's Office, City of Boston, MA, July 19th, 2017. Read more.
- Joining the ACLU’s ‘Freedom Cities’ Campaign in Support of Muslims and Immigrants, Dane County, January 26th, 2018. Read more.
- “Immigration helps Grand Forks employers and economy, Mayor Mike Brown, Grand Forks Herald, June 29th, 2016. Read more.
Create and implement plans to be immigrant-friendly:
- Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City, Human Relations Council, City of Dayton, OH, September 1st, 2011. Read more.
- Welcoming San Jose: Plan for Civic, Economic, Linguistic, and Social Integration 2016 - 2019, Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of San Jose, CA, January 1st, 2015. Read more.
- Welcoming Anchorage
Institutionalize supportive services, such as an Office of Immigrant Affairs:
- Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Cultural Affairs
- Houston Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities
- Nashville Mayor’s Office of New Americans
- San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs
Ensure language access to all local government services:
- St. Paul MN has a Limited English Proficiency Plan (link PDF)
- Long Beach CA adopted a Language Access Policy (link PDF)
- New York, NY provides language access for speakers of eleven languages
Protect low wage workers, who are disproportionately immigrants, and support entrepreneurs and local small businesses, as immigrants are more likely to start businesses: See our sections on Enforcing Employment Laws and Supporting Local Businesses.
Improve access to the banking system and provide financial education: A number of cities provide municipal IDs, which help residents access services, including:
- New Haven CT - https://www.newhavenct.gov/gov/depts/vital_stats/elm_city_resident_card.htm
- Cincinnati OH and Durham NC accept “Faith IDs”, identification cards issued by religious institutions for municipal purposes. This has the benefit of keeping any personal data private and not subject to open records or request by ICE.
San Francisco, CA pioneered the “Bank On” model that helps connect residents with financial services.
Provide legal aid or advice on immigration status and citizenship issues: A number of cities, many through the SAFE Cites Network are providing legal aid to immigrants facing deportation. These include: