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The Most Immigrant-Friendly City in America

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on March 11, 2020

According to the New American Economy, Chicago is the best city to support its immigrant populations. Immigrants are crucial to repairing and stimulating the American economy. Attracting them is a goal of any municipality committed to improving its economy and culture.

The New American Economy

The New American Economy is a bipartisan research group founded by Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch to shift the debate on immigration reform. The New American Economy advocates for immigration reform, such as more secured borders and curbing illegal immigration while also support immigrant-friendly policies such as a path to citizenship for undocumented residents and developing opportunities for immigrants to join the economy. The New American Economy engages in research, advocacy, and organization at local, state, and federal levels to fight for immigration reform. They also produce an annual cities index which measures a city’s relative effectiveness at implementing immigrant-friendly policies.

Chicago: America’s Immigrant-Friendly City

Immigrants comprise approximately 20 percent of Chicago’s population. Further, immigrants account for 25 percent of Chicago’s spending power, earning approximately $17 billion. Further, immigrants account for 36 percent of entrepreneurs. The New American Economy uses a 51-factor assessment to measure cities. Chicago was successful this year because it developed an inclusive legal environment which assists DACA recipients and other undocumented residents.

Chicago is leading a trend among Midwestern cities to adopt immigrant-friendly policies. For example, Cleveland, Toledo, and Milwaukee adopted policies to encourage immigrants to move to their respective cities to arrest their declining populations. These cities are taking advantage of their relatively cheap housing options compared to other major metropolitan areas. Midwestern cities have dealt with declining populations for decades which has resulted in urban sprawl and blight. For example, some cities are suffering from rapid economic decline due to dramatic population decline, such as Detroit. Programs to attract immigrants are one way to arrest these declining population figures.

Further, cities are also implementing other policies, such as municipal identification cards, naturalization assistance programs, and entrepreneurship programs catering to immigrants. Other successful cities developed language-assistance programs. For example, some cities are offering non-English bilingual programs at libraries, translation services, and special services for immigrants with disabilities. Many other cities are also implementing legal defense funds to assist immigrants facing deportation. For example, the Chicago legal defense fund assisted 50,000 immigrants since its establishment.