Monthly Archives: December 2015

Houston has a history of welcoming refugees

Haider Elias says languages are his thing. He’s fluent in four, and he put those skills to work as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. Since moving to Houston six years ago, he’s picked up a few new phrases.

“The ‘hasta la vista’ is one that I liked,” Elias said. “It’s always, ‘see you whenever you want.’”

Haider Elias with his wife, Laila and son Prince.

Syeda Hasan/Marketplace

Elias and his family came to the U.S. as refugees. They’re Yazidis, members of the Iraqi religious minority that’s been persecuted by the Islamic State (ISIS). Like almost 40 percent of all refugees who come to Texas, they resettled in Houston. Elias found work within a month at a computer manufacturing company.

 “I already spoke good English and I already knew how to apply for jobs,” he said. “It didn’t take me very long actually to find a job, but that was not the kind of job I was looking for.”

Today, Elias works from home as a freelance translator, and he’s a U.S. citizen. But when he first got to Houston, he didn’t have a lot of options. Refugees don’t get to decide where they resettle in the U.S. Cities are assigned to them based on a number of factors — where they have friends or family, and what kind of economic opportunities they’ll find.

Texas leads the nation in the number of refugees  it accepts. Texas has taken in more than 80,000 refugees over the past 10 years, and most of them come to Houston. But in the wake of recent national security concerns, state officials are pushing to block Syrian refugees from entering. Still, many residents say that won’t trump the welcoming spirit of the nation’s fourth largest city.

Sara Kauffman is the Houston director for Refugee Services of Texas, a nonprofit resettlement agency.

“One of the advantages we have in Houston is we have many jobs available for people who are new,” Kauffman said.

She said most refugees the group works with are employed within four to five months. With thousands more coming to Houston each year, Kauffman said lots of local businesses see an advantage in hiring them.

 “We have some people who call us when they have job opportunities coming up because they know refugees are ambitious,” she said. “They work hard. They are really committed to doing well in their work, and so I think employers recognize that and see refugees as a great hire for them.”

Haider Elias (right) speaks during a panel discussion.

Syeda Hasan

But Houston’s history of welcoming newcomers has been challenged recently. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been a vocal opponent of resettling Syrian refugees in the state. Abbott’s office declined to comment, but he spoke to Fox News about the issue in November.

 “Texas is saying ‘no more,’” Abbott said.

The state has since gone to court to fight the federal government over Syrian refugee placement, but that’s not been echoed by leaders in Houston. 

Mary Lee Webeck is director of education at Houston’s Holocaust Museum. The museum recently invited Haider Elias to give a talk there. “This city has a heart,” Webeck said. “I think that connecting to that heart and finding people that can communicate with that is really, really essential to all of us.”

The Holocaust Museum audience listened carefully as Elias talked about the history of the Yazidi people’s religious persecution.

“They were left traumatized, and they were forced to put their lives on hold,” Elias said.

Since leaving Iraq, Elias has become a vocal advocate for the Yazidi community. He says getting support from such diverse groups gives him hope about the future of refugees in Texas. 

Note: This story was originally published December 31, 2015. It has been updated.

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Houston has a history of welcoming refugees

Haider Elias says languages are his thing. He’s fluent in four, and he put those skills to work as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. Since moving to Houston six years ago, he’s picked up a few new phrases.

“The ‘hasta la vista’ is one that I liked,” Elias said. “It’s always, ‘see you whenever you want.’”

Haider Elias with his wife, Laila and son Prince.

Syeda Hasan/Marketplace

Elias and his family came to the U.S. as refugees. They’re Yazidis, members of the Iraqi religious minority that’s been persecuted by the Islamic State (ISIS). Like almost 40 percent of all refugees who come to Texas, they resettled in Houston. Elias found work within a month at a computer manufacturing company.

 “I already spoke good English and I already knew how to apply for jobs,” he said. “It didn’t take me very long actually to find a job, but that was not the kind of job I was looking for.”

Today, Elias works from home as a freelance translator, and he’s a U.S. citizen. But when he first got to Houston, he didn’t have a lot of options. Refugees don’t get to decide where they resettle in the U.S. Cities are assigned to them based on a number of factors — where they have friends or family, and what kind of economic opportunities they’ll find.

Texas leads the nation in the number of refugees  it accepts. Texas has taken in more than 80,000 refugees over the past 10 years, and most of them come to Houston. But in the wake of recent national security concerns, state officials are pushing to block Syrian refugees from entering. Still, many residents say that won’t trump the welcoming spirit of the nation’s fourth largest city.

Sara Kauffman is the Houston director for Refugee Services of Texas, a nonprofit resettlement agency.

“One of the advantages we have in Houston is we have many jobs available for people who are new,” Kauffman said.

She said most refugees the group works with are employed within four to five months. With thousands more coming to Houston each year, Kauffman said lots of local businesses see an advantage in hiring them.

 “We have some people who call us when they have job opportunities coming up because they know refugees are ambitious,” she said. “They work hard. They are really committed to doing well in their work, and so I think employers recognize that and see refugees as a great hire for them.”

Haider Elias (right) speaks during a panel discussion.

Syeda Hasan

But Houston’s history of welcoming newcomers has been challenged recently. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been a vocal opponent of resettling Syrian refugees in the state. Abbott’s office declined to comment, but he spoke to Fox News last month about the issue.

 “Texas is saying ‘no more,’” Abbott said.

The state has since gone to court to fight the federal government over Syrian refugee placement, but that’s not been echoed by leaders in Houston. 

Mary Lee Webeck is director of education at Houston’s Holocaust Museum. The museum recently invited Haider Elias to give a talk there. “This city has a heart,” Webeck said. “I think that connecting to that heart and finding people that can communicate with that is really, really essential to all of us.”

The Holocaust Museum audience listened carefully as Elias talked about the history of the Yazidi people’s religious persecution.

“They were left traumatized, and they were forced to put their lives on hold,” Elias said.

Since leaving Iraq, Elias has become a vocal advocate for the Yazidi community. He says getting support from such diverse groups gives him hope about the future of refugees in Texas. 

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Happy New Year

Everyone here at TheDomains.com would like to wish you a Happy and healthy new year. Things will be changing around here, after 8 years Michael will be able to do something other than be on a computer 24/7. The first post on TheDomains was here on December 4, 2007. Since that first post there have […]

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Celebrating New Year’s, by the numbers

1 million

 That’s how many people the Times Square Alliance expects to fill Times Square for the annual ball drop in New York City. 

22.7 million

 The number of viewers that tuned in to watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest last year, scoring higher ratings than network New Year’s Eve specials.

$799

 How much it costs per person for the sold-out Bubba Gump Shrimp dinner at its Times Square location on New Year’s Eve. While this event comes with a view, Ruby Tuesday’s Times Square restaurant is charging over $1,000 for a “VIP couples table.”

11,875 pounds

 That’s how much the New Year’s Eve ball weighs. The ball is 12 feet in diameter and will drop for 60 seconds starting at 11:59 p.m.

 2,778 bottles

 The Guinness World Record for the amount of champagne bottles uncorked simultaneously. A New Year’s Eve event in Atlantic City is attempting to break the record.

42

 The number of floats that will be featured in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasedena, California on New Years Day.

2016

  The new year.

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It was a rough year for Warren Buffett

All day long we’ve been tracking the things that happened this year: notable passings, the 10 most-watched ads, cultural trends you need to know for 2016.

But here at Marketplace, we like to follow the money. 

Which is why it’s notable to us that in 2015 — by some accounts — almost 70 percent of investors lost money this year.

It was the worst year on the stock market since the financial crisis of 2008.

CNBC notes that it was the hardest year to make money in 78 years.

It was so bad, in fact, that even investment legend Warren Buffett is having his worst year since 2008. 

Bloomberg reports Mr. Buffett personally lost $11.3 billion in net worth this year.

His investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway, had its first negative annual return since 2011.

Someone is going to be having some extra champagne tonight.

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