Immigrant Rights as an Exercise in Urban Branding: The Case of Philadelphia (2008–2015)

  • Hilary Sanders
Part of the Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship book series (MDC)


This chapter seeks to show how the protection of immigration rights and the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity have been used among municipal leaders in Philadelphia as strategies for urban economic development. Starting in 2008, Mayor Nutter and his administration adopted a clear pro-immigrant position by implementing two policies designed to improve undocumented and/or non-English speaking residents’ access to public services: a confidentiality policy that prevents local government agencies from transmitting information on legal status to the federal government; and a language access policy requiring these agencies to translate municipal documents and to offer free interpretation services. The discourse of local stakeholders and the language of the pro-immigrant municipal policies, now overseen by an Office of Immigrant Affairs, reveal that these initiatives contribute to branding Philadelphia as an international, tolerant, and “welcoming” city, in an effort to attract highly educated workers and entrepreneurs who are themselves immigrants, or who appreciate the cultural diversity that immigrants bring.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hilary Sanders
    • 1
  1. 1.Département d’Etudes du Monde AnglophoneUniversité Toulouse-Jean JaurèsToulouseFrance

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