Governor Pat Quinn today released an inter-agency report detailing the efforts of his New Americans Initiative to welcome everyone in Illinois.
The report comes in advance of the Governor’s upcoming trade mission to Mexico, which is part of his agenda to create jobs in Illinois and drive the state’s economy forward.
“This report shows the major progress we have made in welcoming new Americans to Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “I invite every newcomer to visit one of our innovative ‘one-stop’ Welcoming Centers for health screening, job training, legal assistance or help in applying to college or for a mortgage. We are committed to making Illinois the most immigrant-friendly state in the nation.”
Governor Quinn held today’s event at the Illinois Welcoming Center in Melrose Park, which provides a wide range of services to newcomers under the Governor’s Office of New Americans. He was joined by cabinet members, immigrant rights activists and several consuls general to highlight the services, partnerships and legislation spearheaded by the Office of New Americans in 2012 to improve the integration of Illinois’ two million immigrants.
In 2012, the Office of New Americans grew the number of Welcoming Centers from two to five (North Riverside, Melrose Park, Chicago’s Northwest Side, Chicago’s Southwest Side and Aurora), and another will open soon in Chicago’s Southeast Side. Since 2010, the Office of New Americans boosted the number of service providers from 11 to 25 state agencies, and made more information available online and in multiple languages. To aid the growing numbers of immigrants who live outside of the Chicago area, the Governor’s Office used a Welcoming Center “Mobile Unit.”
According to the report, this major progress meant that at least 11,000 new Americans utilized the services and programs offered by the Welcoming Centers in 2012.
In the upcoming year, Governor Quinn plans to open a new Illinois Welcoming Center in Chicago’s Southeast Side, and implement a statewide “Language Access Policy” to ensure meaningful access to newcomers with limited English language proficiency. To read the complete report about Governor Quinn’s Office of New Americans or learn about available services, visit immigrants.illinois.gov.
At today’s event, Governor Quinn detailed his upcoming trade mission to Mexico. The three-day trip – which begins tomorrow – will include meetings with potential trade partners and Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, an “Illinois Tourism” event and the signing of a “Sister Lakes” pact. Quinn will also meet with two state governors and mayors of Mexico City and Patzcuaro. Governor Quinn will be Illinois’ first governor to visit Mexico in 13 years and only the fourth U.S. governor to visit Mexico since 2005.
The governor also proclaimed today as Cesar Chavez day in Illinois to honor the civil rights activist and labor leader for his contributions to the progressive movement.
“Cesar Chavez organized the United Farm Workers to fight for humane living conditions, fair wages and basic dignity for some of the most oppressed workers in the United States,” Governor Quinn said. “I had the honor of meeting him four decades ago, so today I’m especially honored to proclaim ‘Cesar Chavez Day’ throughout Illinois so everyone can celebrate his vision, struggle and ethic of service.”