Mexican president to visit Chicago Tuesday

February 11, 2008 4:00:59 PM PST
The president of Mexico will be in Chicago Tuesday as part of his first official visit to the United States. Immigration reform is one major issue being discussed by President Felipe Calderon. But some Mexican-Americans living in Chicago are protesting his visit.

This is the first time Mexican President Felipe Calderon will be visiting the United States as president. On his five-day trip Calderon is also meeting with Mexican communities in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Some Chicagoans are opposing his visit to the city Tuesday at Little Village Lawndale High School.

"We have to say that, in immigration matters, Mr. Calderon also failed to really address the needs of Mexicanos in the United States," said Carlos Arango, community activist.

Critics say Calderon needs to address the raids and deportations of undocumented Mexicans, the proposed border wall, the human rights issue, and economic issues, such as guest-worker programs and healthcare.

"He hasn't been supportive at all. Him coming here, doesn't do good go the Mexicans," said Rose Mary Peralta, concerned citizen.

Other critics say a lack of services at the Mexican consulate office must be tackled. They believe the consulate should extend its hours of service and improve the time for a simple transaction to be completed.

"When you go there, you stay there for, 3, 4 or 5 hours," said Esperanza Peralta, Mexican immigrant.

Members of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce disagree with the protesters and say the Mexican president is visiting Little Village to meet with his people and hear their concerns. They say this is not about politicians meeting politicians.

"We want to give him a great welcome, and hopefully he can help us with issues we have, education, immigration," said Gonzalo Gradilla, Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber members say they are working to improve conditions at the Mexican consulate.

"There are a lot of people in our organization actually support the Mexican consulate, who feel they are doing a good job," said Gradilla.

President Calderon will have morning and afternoon meetings with Governor Blagojevich and Mayor Daley. At 4 p.m. he will meet Mexican immigrants at the Little Village Lawndale High School. He is only in town for the day.