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Immigrant Rights Groups Plan Amnesty Ad Drive

Times Staff Writer

Using Spanish-language newspaper and radio ads, bus signs and even street posters, a coalition of immigrants’ rights groups plans a monthlong publicity campaign to encourage immigrants to apply for amnesty in the final months of the one-year program.

Citing what she called a “less than aggressive public awareness campaign” by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a spokeswoman for the coalition said Thursday that the group’s media campaign is an attempt to “fill the void” in getting the word out to prospective amnesty applicants.

Only about 1 million immigrants across the country have applied so far for the program, which was set up to handle nearly 4 million applications, said Linda Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles. And she noted that only four months are left in the program, which is scheduled to end May 4.

“We’ve seen only an occasional newspaper ad . . . heard an occasional radio PSA (public service announcement) from INS,” Mitchell said. “Beyond that, their campaign has been very limited.”

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Disputing the charge, INS spokesman John Belluardo said that the INS has spent about $10.7 million so far in a national advertising campaign, with about one-fourth of the amount spent in the Los Angeles area.

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Most of the money has gone into television, radio and newspaper advertising. But, Belluardo added, “if you look for the TV ads during the CBS ‘Evening News,’ you’re not likely to see them.” Most of the ads have run on cable television news networks and on ethnic radio programs, he said.

The private media campaign, funded through $50,000 in private foundation grants, is planned to last through February, Mitchell said. It will include hundreds of radio and newspaper ads, as well as newspaper inserts and signs in public transit buses, listing community organizations offering assistance. Thousands of small posters also will be placed on lamp posts and vacant lots throughout Latino communities in Los Angeles and Orange counties.


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