The hopes of the Irish undocumented rose today amid reports from Washington that activists have stepped up their efforts for comprehensive immigration reform.

They are calling on President Barack Obama to introduce legislation this year.

Capitol Hill sources say that Congress is expected to take up the issue after Labor Day.

In the House of Representatives, members have been circulating a sign-on letter which urges Obama to address the issue.

Seven representatives from Obama's home state of Illinois signed on to the letter today.

U.S. Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Phil Hare have all publicly pleaded with Obama to take the lead on immigration.

They signed on to the letter which calls for laws that keep immigrant families together, protect workers and provide safe migration opportunities.

The sign-on letter comes in the wake of a speech by Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, to push for immigration reform.

Late last month, she told an annual conference of federal judges and court officials in California that immigration reform was on the top of her agenda.

There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the U.S. out of a total undocumented population of about 14 million.

Accurate numbers are notoriously difficult to come by but Irish immigration centers say that the number of Irish immigrants has been steadily rising.