According to the Houston Chronicle, one million immigrants call Harris County, Texas home. That’s about one out of every four people in Harris County who have come here from another country. One in four! I’ve known Houston’s population is diverse, but that figure floored me. I wonder what other major cities in the world can match that ratio of immigrants to native-born residents. Off the top of my head, I’d guess New York and London. Any others? And do any of those other cities celebrate a three-week rodeo?
One of my cousins told me long ago that one of the reasons he liked Houston was the idea that anyone can thrive here, as long as a person has gumption and a strong work ethic. I’ve generally found that to be true. Most people don’t really care what your daddy did or where you grew up. On balance, that’s a good thing.
I don’t mean to sound naïve. Of course one’s background can matter. I have no doubt that being native-born confers a whole host of advantages. On the flip side, so many of Houston’s immigrants face real and existential struggles that would bewilder me. Economic disparity here is real and stark. We can and must do a better job of creating opportunities for all of us who call Houston home. Still, Houston must be doing something right if people keep moving here. Houston’s diversity makes it a far more interesting and vibrant place to live. I wouldn’t have it any other way.