Immigrant-Friendly Cities


Our cities have long been a destination for immigrants, bringing 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. See our sections on Enforcing Employment Laws and Supporting Local Businesses.
  • Improve access to the banking system and provide financial education.
  • Provide legal aid or advice on immigration status and citizenship issues.

Technical Assistance for Members

Member cities can request up to three short policy memos per year on the topics that you need the most help with.  Learn more.

What Cities Can Do

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Statement of Support from City Leadership

As leaders of their city, mayors play a crucial role in setting the right tone for their communities. Supporting immigrants with statements of support are an important first step. See examples from Jersey City, NJ’s Mayor Fulop, Boston, MA’s Mayor Walsh, and Grand Fork, ND’s Mayor Brown. 

Comprehensive Plans

Many cities are creating comprehensive plans that cover all areas of city government as part of the “Welcoming America” movement. Dayton, OH’s “Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City” lays out a goal-driven framework for action, as does Anchorage, AK’s “Welcoming Anchorage Roadmap.”


Institutionalization of Immigrant Supportive Services

Cities like Baltimore, MD, Houston, TX, Nashville, TN, and San Francisco, CA all have offices for immigrant affairs, which focus solely on providing resources for and supporting new Americans.

Language Access

St. Paul, MN has a Limited English Proficiency Plan. Long Beach, CA adopted a Language Access Policy. New York, NY provides language access for speakers of eleven languages. 


A number of cities provide municipal IDs, which help residents access services, including New Haven, CT. Cincinnati, OH and Durham, NC accept “Faith IDs”, which are 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.

Legal & Financial Support

A number of cities, many through the SAFE Cites Network are providing legal aid to immigrants facing deportation, including Baltimore, MD, San Antonio, TX, Austin, TX,  and Atlanta, GA. 

San Francisco, CA pioneered the “Bank On” model that helps connect residents with financial services.