Celebrating Houston's Refugees

image from Culturemap
Over 60,000 refugees flee to the United States every year. Nearly 3,000 of those end up in Houston. But why do they come here and where are they coming from?

California, Washington, Florida, New York or Texas have the largest influx of refugees in the U.S. Mayor Annise Parker says they all come for the same reasons.

"Refugees come to Houston fleeing violence or persecution and we have a responsibility to make sure they are safe while they are here but also that they have a good chance to integrate into the broader Houston community."

Ali Alsudani is Director of Refugee Services at Interfaith Ministries. Alsudani fled his native Iraq in 2009 seeking refuge in Texas but feels he’s gotten so much more than that.

"Houston is diverse; affordable living, friendly people; the biggest city in the United States in job growth. You can see if you work hard with opportunities you can make it."

Where refugees come from shifts as the political landscape changes worldwide. While Mayor Parker’s family hosted Vietnamese and Cambodian families back in the 70’s now refugees come from elsewhere says Jeff Larkins with YMCA’s International Services.

"The biggest refugee population’s we’re working with are ethnic Nepalese refugees fleeing from Bhutan. Non-Burmese refugees from Burma, Myanmar. Also we’re starting to see larger numbers of Eritreans, starting to see some Congolese and Cubans."

Houston’s refugees will be honored at World Refugee Week which runs from June 11th through the 16th.

Bio photo of Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Producer, Houston Matters

Edel is a producer on Houston Matters and reporter for PBS’s Newshour Weekend...