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CHC Set to Unveil Pro-Reform Petition

In an effort to keep pressure on House leadership to pursue immigration reform even as the legislation’s future in the Senate remains uncertain, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will help unveil a massive petition Thursday in favor of a comprehensive plan.

The petition, organized by popular Latino disc jockey Eddie Sotelo, who is known on-air as El Piolín, is estimated to contain more than 1 million signatures, according to CHC Chairman Joe Baca (D-Calif.).

Sotelo, the host of a Univision Radio syndicated morning show, has traveled cross-country with the petition, collecting signatures and broadcasting from Albuquerque, N.M., Dallas and Chicago, with a final stop in the nation’s capital scheduled for today.

“I know the feeling of so many people who feel so afraid,” said Sotelo, who acknowledged that he once was an undocumented immigrant himself. He added that he was inspired to push for change following last year’s immigration marches in several states and sought advice from immigration attorneys before settling on the letter campaign.

The text of the letter, addressed to President Bush and both chambers of Congress, urges the adoption of “a fair and just immigration reform bill this year,” emphasizing the creation of a legalization process for those immigrants in the country illegally “already leading a productive life,” as well as an expedited process for the parents of young children and protections for migrant workers.

The CHC, along with the Congressional Hispanic Conference and several Senate lawmakers, will announce the letters’ final signature tally at a press event this afternoon.

Frustrated by the Senate’s efforts to produce an immigration bill, CHC lawmakers have lobbied their Senate colleagues in recent days to resuscitate their version of the measure, even if the final result remains largely imperfect.

The Senate failed to vote to end debate on the measure last week, prompting Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to pull the bill from the chamber’s floor. It remains uncertain when the legislation could return to the schedule.

House leaders have remained tepid about whether they will take up a bill independent of the Senate’s actions.

“I want to see what the Senate does,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) at a Tuesday press conference

Opponents of immigration reform, notably Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), have similarly compiled petitions for their side.

The Colorado lawmaker, who is seeking the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, announced last week the “Save America Campaign” to oppose the bill, including a petition that opposes the inclusion of any amnesty provisions in the measure.

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