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Illinois expands welcome centers for immigrants


Chicago, Apr 4 (EFE).- Illinois, which in 2007 opened its first welcome center for immigrants, continues to expand those services with an eye toward becoming the state that treats immigrants the best, according to a report presented Thursday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

He praised the work of the director of the Governor's Office of New Americans, Denise Martinez, and said that "all the New Americans in our state deserve the best opportunities possible to achieve their goals."

Martinez, in turn, said that the office's task has been to promote the full integration of immigrants all over Illinois, taking advantage of their "linguistic, cultural and economic" contributions.

In a state where 20 percent of the residents are immigrants or the children of immigrants, Quinn said in the report that the welcome centers doubled the support that immigrants receive from the 25 state agencies that offer services.

Quinn mentioned other initiatives, such as the fund that since 2011 has been taking in private contributions to finance the university studies of young undocumented foreigners.

Also, he emphasized the law signed in January that will allow the issuance of temporary driver's licenses to undocumented people who have lived in Illinois for more than a year if they pass a driving exam and have insurance.

The Office of New Americans, in association with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, has facilitated the citizenship application process and registered thousands of immigrants to vote.