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Wed Aug 27, 2014, 06:48 PM

Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis

Oil men give way to imams in this hot urban sprawl of 6 million – black, white, Hispanic and Asian

August 27, 2014 6:00AM ET
by E. Tammy Kim @etammykim

HOUSTON — On Wright Road, near the cellphone parking lot at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, sits an enormous rectangular warehouse and parking lot stippled taxicab yellow. Sedans and SUVs imprinted with the blocky names of car companies line up headlight to taillight in countless rows. Drivers of every nationality, age and background — nearly all men — wait hours to be dispatched to the airport terminal with the promise of a $53 fare.

They huddle around TVs, lift weights, gossip, pray and eat in a rundown concrete shelter that once served as a detention facility and is now Houston’s main taxi depot. There’s a circle of North Africans watching Arabic-language news, a lively pingpong game, a chess match and a lone Pakistani leaning back in a plush armchair. In the only air-conditioned part of the structure, not far from the two food trucks parked outside, drivers nuke their lunches in microwaves stacked on the floor, and part-time students read and surf the Web.

Ebrahim Ulu, an affable, round-faced man with a broken gait, begins a sultry 14-hour shift in July. A teacher and public-health worker in Ethiopia, he went to Houston in 2007 on a diversity visa, a certain number of which go to countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. “For six months, I slept in the car in order to buy a car and bring my family from Africa,” he said. Life today is much improved: After a long day of driving and waiting for customers, he returns home to his two young children and pregnant wife. He owns the car he drives but must lease the right to operate a taxi in the form of a costly $170-per-week medallion.

The burden of having to rent the medallion from a middleman moved Ulu and his fellow drivers to form an unofficial union, the United Houstonian Taxi Drivers Association, in 2011. It’s the eighth organizing effort that Sam Arnick, a 63-year-old African-American driver, has seen in his long career as a Houston cabby. “In the past we had 10 different ethnic groups out there. They didn’t trust each other, so we got representatives,” he said ...

Much more here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/8/26/immigrants-reshapehoustonamericasmostdiversemetropolis.html




Chris Delphin, left, a Houston native, sits with his fiancé, Roy Brooks, outside their Montrose bungalow. In recent years, Delphin said, he has “noticed a lot more interracial couples like us.” E. Tammy Kim / Al Jazeera America

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Reply Immigrants reshape Houston, America’s most diverse metropolis (Original post)
TBF Aug 2014 OP
Fred Sanders Aug 2014 #1
yallerdawg Aug 2014 #2
TBF Aug 2014 #3
yallerdawg Aug 2014 #4

Response to TBF (Original post)

Wed Aug 27, 2014, 07:09 PM

1. Immigrants in numbers reshape every community for the better, folks need to understand the

incredible willpower of those people who have travelled so far in place and time for a better life, they will make that better life for themselves and their families, at rates far greater than most, it is what they do it for.

And everyone benefits.

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Response to TBF (Original post)

Wed Aug 27, 2014, 08:17 PM

2. Houston ain't your mother's Texas!

Well, not my mother's Texas (she became a radicalized Republican during Watergate -- has mellowed a bit with Medicare and Social Security, of course).

I grew up in Alief (a town outside Houston many years ago) and Sharpstown (just west of Bellaire) back when there were only a million people or so. It was diverse even then. Gays in Montrose, Chinese downtown, Vietnamese in Galveston, Mexican-Americans everywhere. Now it is the definition of multiculturalism!

We love to go back and visit my mother for very short periods of time -- like overnight. I've spent 25 years in rural Alabama (and I'm counting presently in Montgomery) and Houston is just too big! I've been bumper to bumper on interstates at 2 AM (you know, when the bars closed and everyone had to go home at the same time).

But this is the future of Texas. Houston, Austin and Dallas, Travis County, Dallas County, Houston County, the Rio Grande border, all Democrat. This is Wendy Davis country, no Bush/Perry/Abbott.

Compared to the old Texas, this is progress, and from the welcoming arms of a hopeful nation. The immigrant base is becoming Americanized and political. They will be spreading out across America. They will have a new perspective on what our government can do to help people, and the role good government can play in our lives.

These are the people who are with us to transform America to a more fair and equitable culture. Together, we can bring Democracy back to America.

Which would be a good start.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 27, 2014, 09:22 PM

3. I live south of Houston and it was interesting during

the Obama primary (which actually brought me back to both politics and posting at DU). I worked as a co-precinct leader down here & the feelings were very mixed. There was definite support for Obama, but the Latina women really wanted Hillary. One reason I'm not as down on her as some people are, even though she is overall centrist, is that she could be the one to pull Texas into play for the dems. Even if she's not the candidate she would be very helpful to campaign efforts down here. Change is definitely coming to Texas and I welcome it.

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Response to TBF (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 27, 2014, 09:41 PM

4. Well, you know Southern Democrats...

have to do a lot of thinking. We have many Democratic candidates who were Republicans yesterday, and some Democrats who are now Independent. Got to think about it.

Hillary was never anything but a Democrat, so that's a plus in my book! I like my Party!

In the South, or anywhere really, we should "never let the perfect be the enemy of the good." We know all to well who the enemy is.

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