Wednesday, September 26, 2007
sponsored by Illini Bank

Gov. Blagojevich and President Lech Kaczynski of Poland sign agreement to strengthen ties between Poland and Illinois            Send a link to a friend

[September 26, 2007]  CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed a partnership agreement Tuesday with President Lech Kaczynski of Poland to strengthen the ties and expand the economic and cultural relationship between the republic of Poland and the state of Illinois. As part of his official visit to Chicago, Kaczynski met with Blagojevich in the governor's office to discuss the ways in which Illinois and Poland can expand economic opportunities and address issues and concerns of their respective governments and citizens.

"Thousands of Polish immigrants have come to Illinois over the last few decades and contributed to the success and rich diversity of our state. It's very important that we recognize the contributions Poland has made to Illinois and to the United States, by forming long-lasting relationships which will help benefit our citizens," Blagojevich said. "This agreement will strengthen our economic links and foster opportunities for the people of Illinois and the people of Poland. My thanks and appreciation to President Kaczynski for once again coming to Chicago, and I look forward to continue developing a lasting and mutually beneficial friendship,"

The agreement signed Tuesday, called the "Declaration of the Establishment of a Partner Relationship between the Republic of Poland and the State of Illinois," encourages Illinois to cooperate with Poland in trade and commerce, science and technology, culture and education, sports and health, and other fields of interest to both countries. The signing of this agreement seeks the mutual understanding, friendship, and beneficial economic and cultural cooperation between the people of Poland and Illinois.

Kaczynski was sworn into office as the president of the republic of Poland on Dec. 23, 2005. Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, Polish Prime Minister Yaroslaw Kaczynski, are the founding members of the Law and Justice Party in Poland. In the 1970s President Kaczynski was active in the democratic anti-Communist movement in Poland. He also served as an adviser to Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement. The president and his wife, Maria, have one daughter, Marta.

During his last visit to Chicago, in 2006, Kaczynski met with Blagojevich at an event in Grant Park. Kaczynski's visit to Chicago this week comes during his four-day official visit to the United States. With close to 1 million Polish Americans, Chicago boasts the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw.

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Since 2003, Blagojevich has taken several executive and legislative steps to help and protect hardworking Polish immigrants, including:

  • Launching the All Kids program, which will make Illinois the first state in the nation to provide comprehensive, affordable health insurance to all of the state's uninsured children, including children of undocumented immigrants.

  • In 2005, Blagojevich signed the "New Americans Executive Order," a landmark initiative helping immigrants and their host communities by creating an office to coordinate policies and programs to help newcomers fully assimilate to the state, provide more and better services to the growing number of immigrants living in Illinois, and study the impact of immigration policy on the state.

  • Signing into law a bill that makes Illinois the most aggressive state in the nation in regard to protecting day laborers and going after unlawful day and temporary labor agencies that cheat workers of their hard-earned pay and leave them unprotected at work.

  • Launching the New Americans Initiative, aimed at helping thousands of eligible permanent residents become naturalized U.S. citizens. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is administering the initiative, a $3-million-a-year partnership with the state.

  • Signing into law a bill that allows for undocumented immigrants to attend public universities in Illinois at in-state tuition rates.

  • Signing into law a bill that protects immigrants from abuse by unlawful notary publics who misrepresent themselves as immigration lawyers and charge excessive fees for their services.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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