Program Started by Kirk in 2005 Reunites Family Members from Mexico with Relatives in Illinois with 30-Day Travel Visas; Abuelitas Has Helped Reunite Over 2,500 People with Their Relatives from Illinois
CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)–June 26, 2015. U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and members of his Latino Advisory Board today joined the Medina Sandoval family who were recently reunited through Senator Kirk’s Abuelitas Program, to announce plans to expand the program to Rockford, Joliet, and southern Illinois.
In December 2005, then-Congressman Kirk coordinated closely with local Mexican social clubs to establish the Abuelitas Program to help Mexican grandmothers and grandfathers obtain short-term travel visas for the purpose of visiting their relatives in the United States. Kirk later expanded the program to allow other family members, such as brothers and sisters, to visit relatives in Illinois.
The Medina Sandoval family was reunited on June 22, 2015, after spending over four years apart. Amalia Medina Sandoval, an Illinois resident, used to make frequent visits to her sister Socorro and brother Gabriel in El Fresno, Michoacán, Mexico until economic challenges and physical limitations stopped her from making regular visits. Through the Abuelitas Program, and financial assistance from other family members in the United States, Socorro and Gabriel, who are both hearing impaired, were able to travel to Chicago to see Amalia. They will spend a total of 30 days in the United States.
“We already have a great program in Waukegan and Aurora,” Senator Kirk said. “It is time to expand the Abuelitas Program throughout the state so more Illinois families can be reunited.”
“I am very proud of how the Abueitas Program has expanded,” Latino Advisory Board Member Rosa Reyes-Prosen said. “I thank Senator Kirk for being instrumental in bringing the vision to [our] families and pray for the program’s continued success.”
The State of Illinois is home to over 1.5 million citizens of Mexican descent. With this in mind, Senator Kirk has committed himself to working with local Mexican Social Clubs, including the Tonatico, La Luz, El Cuitzillo and San Jose Social Clubs, to expand the Abuelitas Program, increase program frequency, and provide program opportunities in more areas throughout the state. Senator Kirk is expanding the Abuelitas program to Rockford, Joliet and Southern Illinois.
Since its inception the Abuelitas Program has helped reunite over 2,500 people with their Illinois relatives of Mexican descent.