Obama to Address 2009 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

President Obama will be making an appearance at the 2009 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast on Friday and is expected to speak to the more than 750 Hispanic leaders gathered.

Obama's speech will be especially meaningful as it comes less than a month after he announced Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his first Supreme Court nominee.

Upon announcing his selection last month, Obama said the confirmation of Sotomayor, who is Hispanic, would mark "another important step towards realizing the ideal that is etched above its (America's) entrance: Equal justice under the law."

"This is a decision that I have not taken lightly and it is one that I am proud to have made," he added later in his weekly address to the nation.

Obama's appearance also comes on the heels of the release of a new hate crimes report, which found that the number of hate crimes reported against Hispanics increased nearly 40 percent in the five years from 2003 to 2007.

The report by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) on "Hate Crimes in America" claimed that the increase in violence against Hispanics "correlates closely" with the increasingly heated debate over Comprehensive Immigration Reform and an escalation in the level of anti-immigrant vitriol on radio, television, and the Internet.

"The increase in hate crimes directed against Hispanics for the fourth consecutive year is particularly noteworthy and worrisome because the number of hate crimes committed against other racial, ethnic, and religious groups has over the same period shown either no increase or a decrease," the LCCR reported.

On Wednesday, over one hundred people of faith gathered at the historic Church of the Epiphany in Washington to call for swift and meaningful immigration reform that unites families, protects workers, and treats all immigrants fairly and humanely.

"Our political leaders and we as people of faith have a very serious moral commitment toward the 12 million people in this country and their families who are living in the shadows, not only because of what our scriptures teach about the treatment of immigrants in our communities, but simply because they are human beings," commented the Rev. Simon Bautista, Latino Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

"We are to raise our voices, speaking for the justice that has been sleeping for too long in this country," he added.

President Obama has said he plans to work on immigration reform this year. Speaking from Mexico City in April, Obama said he wants a common sense approach that would help people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. He also wants a new system that would streamline the process for immigrants who want to come to the United States, and create a pathway for illegal immigrants already in the country to become legal residents.

Obama is expected to meet next week with Congress to discuss the movement of immigration legislation this year.

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