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From young college students and women’s rights activists to attorneys and undocumented workers, Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon spoke to a wide spectrum of Chicago’s Mexican community this week.
Calderon emphasized his plans to stabilize Mexico’s economy and immigration problems.
“I know very well that my duty as president is to work, and work very hard, so that immigration isn’t, in the future, the only option of the people,” Calderon said Tuesday afternoon in the auditorium of Little Village Lawndale High School.
“He is giving us hope,” said Jose Flores after proudly shaking the hand of the Mexican president.
Flores, a Chicago Park District employee, moved to the United States from Mexico 22 years ago to better support his family. He came to the event with a church group because he likes the aggressive message Calderon is sending to gang members and drug dealers.
“He has worked hard for all of Mexico. He has worked hard at getting rid of the mafia,” Flores said. Mexico’s last president, Vicente Fox, did not work hard enough to end narco-trafficking, Flores said. Calderon “has cleaned the country for my sons and family,” he added.
Bulmaro Ojeda, president of Interamericana Soccer league, said he would like to see immigration reforms similar to the amnesty passed under President Ronald Reagan.
Ojeda, a U.S. resident for 28 years, said current laws are dividing families and it’s “becoming a problem.”
Freddie Jaramillo liked the president’s position on immigration. “[This is the] change that we need to see in Mexico,” Jaramillo said.
Not everyone in attendance was a fan of Calderon’s politics.
“(There’s) nothing new, same lines people want to hear,” Antonio Contreras, a Chicago communications technology designer, said after the speech. “I’m waiting for something more concrete. We want to hear his plans, not just words…He is acting without thinking, without consequences.”
Yvette Camacho, who is Mexican-American, was eager to hear the president’s message.
“I really like the fact that he came over and showed us support. Many immigrants need to hear that,” she said.