Desitown, USA: Sugar Land, Texas

City of Sugar Land
City of Sugar Land

Nearly four in 10 Sugar Land residents are Asian Americans, and Indian Americans account for more than a third of the city’s Asian American population.

Over the years, Sugar Land, a southwestern suburb of Houston — the fourth most populous city in the United States — has attracted thousands of Indian Americans, who have made the city their home. Located just 20 miles to the southwest of downtown Houston, Sugar Land is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.

For many first generation Indian Americans and other immigrants still nostalgic about their homelands, the city of nearly 90,000 offers the right cultural kaleidoscope. It is home to several popular temples, such as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chinmaya Mission and Ashtalakshmi Temple, and a number of mosques, among other places of worship. There are also several Indian and South Asian grocery shops.

Sugar Land has the highest concentration of Asian Americans in the Houston area. According to the US Census Bureau, 39.1 percent of Sugar Land’s population in 2017 was Asian American. Indian Americans formed 10.7 percent of the city’s population in 2010, when the last Census was held. Their number is believed to be in the lower teens now, accounting for more than a third of the Asian American population.

Doug Adolph, a spokesman for Sugar Land, says the city’s Asian American population is “one of the largest percentages in any community” in the United States. Describing Sugar Land as “one of the most diverse cities in the nation,” he says creating “an inclusive environment” is one of the reasons for the growth in its Asian American population. “Like everyone else, Asian Americans come to Sugar Land to take advantage of an outstanding quality of life defined by the priorities,” he says.

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Dan Mayur, an Indian American author based in Sugar Land, who has written several books on expat experiences in America, explains why his hometown has become a magnet for Indian Americans and other immigrant groups. “Sugar Land is one of the newest suburbs of Houston,” he says. “It has the advantage of having a very progressive city government, visionary town planning, excellent schools and numerous resort-like residential neighborhoods with wonderful housing, shopping and many Indian restaurants. Naturally, it has attracted affluent professionals, a large number of them happen to be upwardly mobile immigrants from countries like India and China. A great majority of them are doctors, lawyers, and engineers.”

A majority of Sugar Land’s population is white collar and highly educated professional class employed in the energy sector. Mayur says that big industries in the neighboring areas have also led to the Indian American influx to Sugar Land. “The energy industry, NASA and world-class gigantic medical center and related supporting businesses are major creators of employment in the area.”

“Houston in general has been very attractive to the Indian community for several reasons,” says Mayur. “Low taxes, warm weather reminiscent of many parts of India, ample space, business friendly government policies and tremendous growth opportunities for education and employment are some of the reasons for that.”

On the growing Indian population, Mayur says, “Indians generally are very social people and once an Indian moves into a community and likes it, he attracts other Indian friends and relatives and the group grows. That is the reason for the popularity of Sugar Land among Indians.”

Adolph, the city spokesman, says Sugar Land — which once won the “Outstanding Achievement City Livability Award” for innovative programs promoting multi-cultural awareness and respect from the US Conference of Mayors — has “worked hard” to “create a community that offers a high level of services and an outstanding quality of life while maintaining one of the state’s lowest tax rates.”

Sugar Land has also tried to “facilitate a welcoming, inclusive environment where people of all backgrounds feel valued, welcomed and empowered to raise their families and become involved in our community,” Adolph said, adding, “We have a number of citizen program geared toward citizen involvement, and we’ve routinely seen people of all backgrounds, including Asian Americans, serve on boards, commissions and City Council.”

Adolph says “Sugar Land remains safer than ever before” because of “years of investments in infrastructure, technology and innovation.”


Houston’s ‘Little India’ unveils monument of Mahatma Gandhi (August 18, 2015)

Sugar Land murder-suicide: Sreenivas Nakirekanti himself called 911 before committing suicide (February 19, 2019)

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