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Cultural Connections: Mayor Arcola is "honored" to be named to the Carnegie Foundation on the 2022 "Great Immigrants" list in New York.

(Editor’s Note: Some of the citations in this article have been translated from Spanish and may not be complete.)

Arcola, Illinois (WCIA) — Arcola made a national headline last year after voters elected the city’s first Latin mayor. Now Mayor Jesus Garza is making history again.

He was named to the Carnegie Foundation on the list of great immigrants in New York in 2022.

“I know him and his family because I was here,” says Estella Betancourt, a longtime resident of Arcola.

For Mayor Garza, there is no place like a house. And the house is Arcola. 3,000 people live in small cities and about 40% are Hispanic.

Like his father, Mayor Garza moved from Mexico to Arcola as a young man and worked in a factory. He eventually opened his own family-owned car repair shop called 3J’s Transmission.

He then jumped into the mayor’s office in April 2021 without any political experience.

The city, where the majority of people voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, elected Mexican immigrants as local leaders.

“As a Mexican, I’m very proud and very happy that he’s got it so far. He deserves it,” Betancourt explains.

And Mayor Garza is once again proud of the people.

Carnegie Corporation honors Andrew Carnegie, the founder of Scottish immigrants, by commending an extraordinary group of immigrants from all over the country who are naturalized US citizens every July 4.

Photo courtesy of Carnegie Foundation in New York

“I feel very good about this. It’s very emotional. If I keep talking about it, I’ll have a hard time [to talk]”Mayor Jesus Garza says.

This year, Mayor Garza is one of 34 on the national list.

“It’s not very common for us to come to this country and give Latin Americans an opportunity because we always have that limit, but it wasn’t for him. [the case].. I’m very happy with him and I’m proud he’s Mexican, “says Betancourt.

Mayor Garza has checked quite a few things from the list during his tenure.

Recently, he brought to Arcola the Mexican Consulate, the official branch of the Mexican government, which operates in the United States and other countries.

We assist those who have important documents such as birth certificates, passports and Mexican ID cards.

“We’ve been working for hours and it’s hard to get to Chicago,” explains Betancourt.

It has the only consulate in Illinois.

“Look at gas prices now,” adds Mayor Garza.

People from central Illinois and even Indiana visited Arcola to take advantage of the consulate’s proximity to home for a week.

Mayor Garza also worked closely with Comptrollers Susan Mendoza and Ameren to install streetlights throughout Arcola to improve security.

“Currently, there are about 80-100 new lights in the town, and we plan to install an additional 100-200 lights. [more] “Light,” explains Garza.

However, the mayor’s work is not over. Garza says he’s always thinking about ways to help the city realize its slogan, Amazing Alcola.

“I want to keep working hard for that and work for my family,” says Garza. “As long as I’m here, I’ll stay that way.”