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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2004

Governor Blagojevich signs trade memorandum with nine Mexican Governors in historic session
Governor spreads message of opportunity and inclusion to Chicago’s Latino community and Mexican delegation

CHICAGO- This evening at the Mexican Consulate General, Governor Rod Blagojevich met with nine Mexican Governors, two Mexican Congressman, the Secretary for Social Development, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, and several hundred leaders from Chicago’s Latino community.  The Governor signed a memorandum of understanding on trade with the Mexican Governors and gave an inspiring message of political inclusion and participation.
 
The Governor’s memorandum pledged to increase trade and cooperation between Illinois and the Mexican states.  Mexico is Illinois’ second leading trading partner after Canada.
 
“I am honored to be here with so many of my esteemed counterparts from Mexico and leaders from Illinois’ Mexican community.  By improving trade between our states, I’m confident that we will improve the lives of the people of Illinois – and the people of Mexico as well. I am inspired by the vigor and solidarity of the Latino community here in Northern Illinois, the second largest Mexican community in the United States,” the Governor said.   “The size and vitality of the Mexican community carries so much strength, but unfortunately, this strength is not being translated into political power.  As a first generation American, I know firsthand the struggles and hardships of being an immigrant.  However, I believe deeply in the American Dream and one of the best ways to achieve it, is to work hard in this country and become politically active.  By becoming naturalized citizens and becoming involved in civic activities like voting, your voices will be heard not only in Chicago and Springfield but also back in Mexico as you demonstrate your political voice here in America.” 
 
“In this country I had the opportunity to get a great education and become governor of a great state like Illinois.  I am working hard to ensure that all of Illinois’ children and citizens have access to a good education and quality health care.  With the right to vote, new immigrants will finally have an amount of political power that’s equal to their numbers.”
Governor Blagojevich has shown steadfast support for the Latino community and other immigrant groups during his tenure as Governor including: 
 
  • Appointing over forty Latinos to his cabinet and other high-level state positions
 
  • Expanding educational opportunities to immigrants by signing a bill allowing undocumented Illinois residents to pay in-state tuition while attending Illinois’ public colleges and universities 
 
  • Supporting legislation that would permit undocumented workers to apply for driver’s licenses allowing them travel more easily and safely 
 
  • Raising the minimum wage, helping newly arrived immigrants to get off their feet and start a new life in America 
 
  • Spearheading the New Americans Initiative, a $3 million program that will help eligible immigrants to become citizens, by providing citizenship counseling, legal assistance, civic engagement training and English classes
 
  • Appointing members of the Latino Worker Safety Panel, which investigates work related deaths and unsafe working conditions among Latino workers 
 
The Mexican delegation of Governors, Congressmen, and a Cabinet level secretary are in Chicago to meet with constituents and promote an innovative remittance program.  The Mexican Governors represent over 36 million people, over a third of Mexico’s population. The Mexican delegation includes:
 
  • Josefina Vazquez- Secretary of Social Development
  • Ismael Alfredo Hernandez- Governor of Durango
  • Juan Carlos Romero- Governor of Guanajuato
  • Rene Juarez- Governor of Guerro
  • Manuel Angel Nunez- Governor of Hidalgo
  • Francisco Ramirez- Governor of Jalisco
  • Lazaro Cardenas- Governor of Michoacan
  • Melquiades Morales- Governor of Puebla
  • Marcelo de los Santos Fraga- Governor of San Luis Potosi
  • Amalia Garcia- Governor of Zacatecas
  • Abelardo Martin- Undersecretary of Social Development
  • Carlos Flores Rico- Mexican Congressman
  • Rafael Flores Mendoza- Mexican Congressman


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