Press Release

25 cities where immigrants are thriving, and 25 cities immigrants are leaving

Cities with large immigrant populations have stronger economies, new Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth initiative report finds

DALLAS, TEXAS – Today, the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative released its new report, “Immigrants and Opportunity in America’s Cities.” The report features a set of rankings of U.S. cities where immigrants are producing economic impact and reveals how leaders can increase immigrant opportunity.

Immigrants are continuing to choose cities like Miami, New York, and Houston to first settle in. However, should they make a secondary move within the United States, immigrants are choosing the same places native-born people are—metros with relatively affordable housing and growth-friendly business and tax policies. Destinations for these secondary moves include Nashville, Charlotte, and Jacksonville, Fla. among other cities, found Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative and author of the report.

Metros and counties with large immigrant populations make America’s cities more innovative and enterprising, according to the report. Additionally, immigrants fill essential jobs and enrich local communities, increasing opportunity for other people living in the area.

“Immigrants bring innovation, entrepreneurship, greater opportunity, and income for other people in the cities in which they live,” Clark said. “Cities should welcome them and create favorable conditions for them to thrive and succeed – not only because it’s the right thing to do but because doing so will benefit everyone.”

Almost 20% of U.S. metros would have seen population declines between 2010 and 2021 without immigration, but instead grew because of it. Immigrant communities in those metros help revitalize local business and downtowns, contributing to prosperity.

The research found immigrants thrived in communities that were intentional in prioritizing initiatives that support immigrant well-being. Several mid-Atlantic and Midwestern metros stood out in the data for having immigrant-welcoming initiatives.

Metros with major technology centers such as San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. also ranked highly in immigrant well-being. Additionally, immigrants are choosing to live and work in second-tier tech and finance centers like Austin, Raleigh, Madison, and Colorado Springs. View a complete list of city rankings.

The report outlines how state and local leaders can pursue targeted policies to help immigrants learn, earn, belong, and contribute. Cities that succeed in attracting immigrants and creating conditions for them to thrive will likely achieve outsized prosperity in the coming decades, as they have done in previous decades.

Click here to read the report and policy recommendations.


About the George W. Bush Institute

The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization focused on ensuring opportunity for all, strengthening democracy, and advancing free societies. Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Bush Institute is rooted in compassionate conservative values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day. Learn more at

About the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative

The Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative combines the public policy expertise of the George W. Bush Institute and the academic expertise of SMU. The joint initiative draws from economic policy-making experience at the highest levels and from cutting edge academic research to identify ideas for promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and faster, more inclusive growth through global competitiveness and sound immigration policy.