E.g., 12/06/2023
E.g., 12/06/2023
Immigrant Civic Integration and Service Access Initiatives: City-Sized Solutions for City-Sized Needs
September 2014

Immigrant Civic Integration and Service Access Initiatives: City-Sized Solutions for City-Sized Needs

In recent decades, large flows of immigration have challenged destination cities both old and new to find innovative ways to meet the needs of immigrant residents and promote their integration. Because city administrations are responsible for providing everyday services and maintaining public spaces and institutions, they hold considerable power over community life and their actions strongly influence the integration of newcomers. While the involvement and coordination of multiple actors and stakeholders can make implementing solutions to these problems difficult, cities of all sizes across the United States are successfully designing approaches to address the unique service access and civic integration challenges they face.

This report examines the integration initiatives of five cities: Cupertino and San Francisco in California; Littleton, Colorado; New York City; and Seattle, Washington. Although these cities vary considerably in size and level of experience with immigration flows, their broad-ranging strategies, which include efforts to engage and include immigrants, improve service access, and effect community transformation, have all been largely successful in reaching their goals. The strategies themselves differ but share several common elements that offer lessons for local governments looking to implement their own integration initiatives.

The examples profiled in this report are pulled from past applicants for the E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, an initiative of MPI's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy which recognized and provided awards to exceptionally successful immigrant integration initiatives from 2009-13. For more on the program and past winners, visit www.integrationawards.org.

This report was commissioned for the eleventh plenary meeting of MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration, which focused on how cities and regions can more fully reap the benefits of immigration.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Evolving City Responses to Diversity

A. Civic Inclusion and Engagement: The Block Leader Program, Cupertino, California

B. Civic Inclusion, Service Access, and Service Provision: The Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative, Littleton, Colorado

C. Civic Inclusion and Equal Access: Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, San Francisco, California

D. Equal Access: Citywide Policy on Language Access, New York City

E. Ending Racial Disparities: Race and Social Justice Initiative, Seattle, Washington

III. Conclusions