Dramatic federal immigration policy proposals and executive actions appear to be a reaction to state and local governments that have taken leadership in responding to immigration. Some local governments have endorsed welcoming immigrants to stabilize high-poverty urban neighborhoods and to enhance regional economic development. Others embrace immigrant incorporation consistent with the social work grand challenge to achieve equal opportunity and justice.
This research estimates the number of immigrant-friendly cities and counties in the United States. To generate this estimate, authors prepared a local government policy scan of all municipalities and counties in the United States with a population of more than 500 persons to identify policies designed to recruit or specifically serve immigrants. Authors also categorized these immigrant-friendly policies on a continuum ranging from rhetoric to outreach, integration, and facilitation.
Only 7% of cities and 6% of counties were found to have immigrant-friendly policy. However, when taking population into account, nearly half of all people in the municipal sample live in a place with an immigrant-friendly policy. The article concludes with the discussion of the implications for social policy and social work practice.
- Richard J. Smith, PhD, MFA, MSW, professor, School of Social Work, Wayne State University
- Catherine Schmitt-Sands, PhD, senior lecturer of global supply chain management, Mike Ilitch School of Business, Wayne State University.
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