This paper deals with a comparison of two governmental initiatives in the direction of immigrants – the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians (Boston, 1998) and Conseil de la Citoyenneté des Parisiens Non-Communautaires (Paris, 2001). In both cities, local political leaders justify their politics by referring to “participatory democracy” as a way to facilitate the inclusion of immigrants into city policy-making. Beyond this rhetorical convergence, we find crucial divergences about these politicians’ respective actual goals and method of functioning : the experience is relatively positive in Boston, whereas the Parisian one is a patent failure. We can underline these differences notably by advancing the following hypothesis: MONB, as a city department, has managed to build a partnership with civil society, particularly with ethnic grassroots organisations, whereas in Paris, the Socialist Party’s top-down CCPNC – a consultative council – is part of a political communication that is destined to its Green political allies and to public opinion at large.