Which American city does the best job of integrating immigrants?

Hint: It's not Philadelphia.

It's Newark, N.J., followed by Baltimore and Chula Vista, a suburb of San Diego.

But the City of Brotherly Love fared reasonably well, placing sixth in a study that ranked the 100 biggest American cities, just behind San Francisco and just ahead of San Jose.

Finishing last was Raleigh, N.C.

On a one-to-five-point scale, "Philadelphia scores a high 3.85, owing in part to perfect marks in the government leadership and economic empowerment categories," the study said. "Rising incomes and a decline in the poverty rate would serve to improve Philly's already solid showing."

Mayor Kenney said the results "show that new citizens and all immigrants are vital to our shared prosperity, and help make our city a vibrant place where all residents can succeed."

The study was released Monday by New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business people that promotes comprehensive immigration reform. It was founded in 2010 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, and includes more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and independent mayors and business leaders.

The report scored each city based on 51 measures, from language-access policies to labor-force participation, from health-insurance rates to home ownership.

Whether immigrants are integrating into their communities and the impact they exert upon those places, the study noted, are two of the foundational questions driving the national debate over immigration. The report included documented and undocumented immigrants.

The Cities Index was timed to appear Monday, which is Citizenship Day and Constitution Day, observed every Sept. 17 to mark the date in 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was signed. In Philadelphia, the city is celebrating Welcome Week, held annually to showcase the community as an inviting place for immigrants, refugees, and people of all backgrounds.

Pedestrians walk by the Municipal Services Building, where panels of an outdoor art project by students of Northeast High School helped kick off Welcoming Week in 2017.
CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Pedestrians walk by the Municipal Services Building, where panels of an outdoor art project by students of Northeast High School helped kick off Welcoming Week in 2017.

The ability to attract immigrants was key to population growth among the top-ranked cities. Both Newark and Baltimore, which placed first and second, would have seen their populations shrink since 2010 except for an influx of immigrants, the study said.

In Philadelphia, immigration has become a major driver of the city's recent population growth. Its foreign-born population increased 69 percent from 2000 to 2016 — to more than 232,000 — and now represents nearly 15 percent of all Philadelphia residents, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts analysis that was released in June.

Between 2000 and 2016, the total city population increased from 1,517,550 to 1,567,872, Pew found.

The top 25 cities in the index have attracted larger shares of highly skilled newcomers, both immigrants and U.S.-born workers, that make them more competitive for business and economic investment. Those top cities also benefit from greater equity between immigrants and American-born residents across key measures of quality of life, according to the study.

NAE said the Cities Index was the first comprehensive national assessment of government policies that encourage immigrant integration, and of the resulting social and economic outcomes.

The cities with the highest scores tended to fit three very different profiles:

— Cities that are starting to rebound after years of job and population losses, like Newark and Baltimore, where immigrants are bringing skills and entrepreneurial spirit. In those places, immigrants are helping develop a more stable workforce, encourage creation of new businesses, fill vacant housing, and expand local tax bases.

— Cities that are established immigrant hubs, like New York City and San Francisco, and that have created a welcoming environment through strong policies on inclusivity and access to services and information.

— New immigrant gateways, such as Atlanta and Greensboro, N.C., that stand among the nation's fastest-growing places. In these cities, immigrants are helping create diverse workforces that fuel growth and business development.

The study presented its data in different ways, showing that some cities scored better or worse in various categories.

For instance, among cities that had the most effective government policies to welcome immigrants, the top five spots were claimed by towns that have served as major, traditional gateways: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Seattle. Each city earned perfect scores in government leadership and legal support, the study said.

When judged on social and economic outcomes, smaller, more affordable cities were tops: St. Petersburg, Fla.; Baton Rouge, La.; Newark, Chula Vista, and Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas. Those cities scored especially high in livability, which pointed to relatively high rates of home ownership, health-insurance coverage, and educational attainment among their immigrant populations.