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Illinois Wants to Blaze Trail for Immigrants

The Blagojevich administration today unveils a plan to make Illinois a model for states with large immigrant populations. A year in the making, the plan says integrating immigrants into society's mainstream will make Illinois more competitive in the global economy.

The key is a language instruction campaign. Juan Salgado co-chairs a community committee that helped develop the plan.

"All should know that immigrants are incredibly eager to learn English," Salgado says.

The proposal would also set up statewide offices dubbed "Welcoming Centers," help immigrants transfer their credentials to meet Illinois professional standards, and help them gain citizenship.

Any new spending for immigrants could prompt opposition from lawmakers who are worried about the state's budget deficit.

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