Often thought of as a “boomtown” of recent origin, Houston is actually comparatively old by American urban standards. It has become a major economic center of the United States and sports a panoply of communities reflecting trends in immigration throughout American history, from a large and longstanding Hispanic presence to new arrivals from West Africa. Houston is in the top five of American cities in regard to the number of businesses owned and run by Hispanics.
The fourth most populous city in the United States, Houston was home to roughly 2,200,000 people in 2009. Of these, approximately 38 percent were Hispanic, mostly people of Mexican origin. Because Texas shares a long frontier with Mexico and was once part of that country, Houstonians of Mexican background, as with Texans in general, may be either recent immigrants, the descendents of people who fled north during periods of political unrest or financial instability in Mexico during the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, or members of families who have resided in the area for centuries. In addition to Hispanics of Mexican background, some Hispanics in Houston are of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and South American descent. Almost one-half million illegal immigrants are estimated to live in the Houston area. Most of them are of Hispanic background, but many are of Asian origin.
Much smaller in numbers than the Hispanic presence, though certainly prominent and vital, is the Asian community of Houston. The first Asians to come to Houston were the
By the year 2000, almost 25,000 people of Chinese descent lived in
A small but growing immigrant group in Houston is that of
Borjas, George J. Mexican Immigration to the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Powell, William Dylan. Houston Then and Now. San Diego, Calif.: Thunder Bay Press, 2003. Siegel, Stanley. Houston: A Chronicle of the Bayou City. Sun Valley, Calif.: American Historical Press, 2005.
Empresario land grants in Texas