Record number of Cubans are settling in Houston, more expected

Delena Granados, 4, and her mother, Maria, at a holiday toy giveaway hosted by Casa Cuba in Houston

From our Bureau of Diaspora Statistics with some assistance from our Bureau of Substitutes for Miami

If you’re wondering where in the U.S. those thousands of newly arrived Cubans end up, take a look at what has happened in Houston. Naturally, most Cubans gravitate to South Florida, but for many reasons, starting a new life in a strange country often requires making adjustments. Ask any Cuban who has ended up in some state other than Florida. Or any Cuban who has ended up in some country other than the U.S. Many of these Cubans think of themselves as double exiles: Exiled from Cuba, exiled from Miami.

Most of the Cubans I knew in Chicago — which was home to over 80,000 Cubans in the 1960’s and 70’s — ended up in South Florida, especially in South West Miami.

Abridged from Houston Landing

As Cuba experiences one of its biggest exoduses in decades — or perhaps ever — more Cubans are making Houston their home, drawn by family connections, an affordable cost of living and job opportunities in key sectors, such as health care.

Cubans are one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in Houston, growing from 10,000 people in the Houston metro area between 2006 and 2010 to 34,000 from 2017 to 2021, according to a November 2023 report by the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Other data shows this population has continued to grow. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Houston field office reported that 3,872 Cubans were apprehended or placed in removal proceedings in fiscal year 2023, up from just 23 in 2022 and 17 in 2021. The number of Cubans encountered in Texas overall in fiscal year 2023 was 92,742. When adding in Houston’s surrounding areas, the Cuban population is likely much bigger, said Adolfo Rodriguez, director of Houston nonprofit Casa Cuba.

“I imagine about 100,000 Cubans here,” said Rodriguez. “Here they get decent jobs, you know, and you can live here,” Rodriguez said. “Making 15 bucks an hour here is better than a person making 15 bucks in Florida.”

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