San Francisco Tops List of Immigrant-Friendly Cities

By Kenrya Rankin Nov 29, 2017

A report released today (November 29) breaks down the best cities for immigrants, and a major hub is hanging out at the bottom of the list.

Money transfer service TransferWise partnered with the New York Immigration Coalition to rank the nation’s 50 most populated cities according to how they accommodate immigrants in nine areas:

  • Self-declaration as a “sanctuary city”
  • Detainer policies in place, specifically a policy in place that refuses to honor or limits ICE compliance
  • Office of Immigrant Affairs/New Americans
  • Access to municipal ID program
  • Affordable public transit
  • Average cost of living
  • Minimum wage
  • Universal preschool
  • Graduation rates

Researchers pulled data from more than 180 sources, including the United States Census Bureau, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local government websites. From the report:

As this is a complicated topic with many ways to measure multiple elements both within and outside of a city’s jurisdiction, our goal is to bring awareness to what’s important to immigrants when it comes to the cities in which they live. We hope this list celebrates the municipalities that rank highly, as well as challenge others in how they can better welcome and sustain immigrant communities.

San Francisco tops the list, with full points for all criteria except cost of living, which is reportedly 62.6 percent higher than the United States average. The report notes that the affordable mass transit system and high school graduation rate pushed it above New York City and Chicago.

Meanwhile, Miami—whose population was 39 percent immigrant in 2015, per a report from CityLab—is last on the list. While it offers universal preschool, the city ranks low in affordability measures and government support for immigrants. And The Miami Herald reported in August that the city no longer functions as a sanctuary city, with Cuban-born Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordering jails to extend detentions of arrestees to aid federal deportation efforts.


Read the full report here.