The U.S. is a country built on immigration, but it is also a federation of states with different identities, populations and economies. It stands to reason that attitudes toward immigrants would differ as well. To some, immigrants provide meaningful labor. To others, immigrants take jobs from natural-born citizens.
It is in this spirit that the National League of Cities
, an organization that brings together local governments and representatives from 19,000 U.S. cities, developed the Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration
project. Its primary goal, as defined in its latest report, is “to promote civic engagement and naturalization among immigrant communities in the cities and towns across the U.S.”
To do this, the NLC looked at best practices in cities’ services for immigrants by visiting and communicating with mayors and city officials in every state. Researchers evaluated programs targeted at four areas: public safety, immigrant outreach, civic engagement and citizenship, and city services.
The 20 cities highlighted in the report vary in size, location, and character, but all of them can claim to be most innovative in ensuring that their immigrant communities are integrated into the local society. Here we look at some of the most compelling programs in 15 of those cities, though the cities excluded from this list (Houston; San Francisco; Skokie, Ill.; Washington, D.C.; Santa Clara County, Calif.) deserve all the same accolades for their efforts to integrate their immigrant populations.
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