'The Strangers Next Door: How Amarillo Became A Refugee Haven' sheds light on the history of immigration in Amarillo, as well as possibilities for the future.

Amarillo doesn't seem like the kind of place that refugees would flock to. We're not exactly a big city with an environment of endless opportunity. Amarillo isn't even close to any major airports. However, for decades, people needing to escape from dangerous situations in other countries have been placed in Amarillo, beginning with Cubans in the 60's.

According to Texas Observer Staff Writer Patrick Michel, Amarillo is the place that many refugees find their happy ending. They get jobs, buy houses, and find success. He spoke to people from Amarillo who had emigrated from Iraq and Kenya that considered Amarillo to be their home.

Michel also pointed out that Amarillo has the largest population of refugees per capita. Yes, cities like Dallas and Houston have technically taken in more numbers, but they also have bigger populations to begin with. Amarillo is a small city of 200,000 and we had 441 refugees settle here last year.

This situation caused Mayor Paul Harpole and Congressman Mac Thornberry to start lobbying for legislation to help control refugee placement.

The Refugee Services of Texas in Amarillo was established in 2008 to help with the placement and orientation of refugees in the area. However, this isn't the kind of solution city officials are looking for.

Michel reported that most people he talked to in Amarillo did not view the growing number of refugees in Amarillo as a crisis, despite mostly untrue stories about "Muslim ghettos" being built in Amarillo.

We thank the Texas Observer and Patrick Michel for taking time to share this valuable story about Amarillo.

Read the article here.

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