Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Meghan Cope


immigrant-friendly city, welcoming, immigrants, refugees, urban regeneration


Despite the media’s controversial and largely negative portrayal of immigrants and refugees in American society, a growing number of cities have been attempting to attract and support immigrants and refugees through various welcoming initiatives. These cities increasingly seek to be designated as “immigrant-friendly” in various ways and for distinct reasons. Cities often undertake welcoming initiatives as an urban regeneration strategy, often to promote economic revitalization, although in some cases this reasoning has been refuted and critiqued. There is no comprehensive definition for the immigrant- friendly designation, in part, because the criteria are specific to each city’s strategies to attract and support immigrants and refugees. In order to research the ways in which cities frame themselves as immigrant-friendly, I explore this phenomenon on a national, regional, and local level. The national scale analysis looks at broad trends in the demographic and economic characteristics of cities designated as immigrant-friendly. The regional scale analysis focuses on post-industrial cities of the Rust Belt, using three exemplar cities: Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN; and Utica, NY. Finally, I focus on Dayton, Ohio as a local scale case study, with an expanded investigation of welcoming strategies to provide insight into the grounded realities of implementing immigrant- friendly polices. Using a mixed-methods approach, this project explores which cities frame themselves as immigrant-friendly, why cities seek the immigrant-friendly designation, what their goals are in doing so, and what tools they use to define and justify their designation as immigrant-friendly.