Thousands of protesters descended on the Georgia state capitol in opposition to new legislation which targets immigrants.
Police estimates indicated at least 5,000 people came out to show their distaste with Georgia’s lawmakers.
“We are fighting for something we believe is fair,” Javier Mendez, a Mexican immigrant, told AP. “We’re not the criminals they say we are. We’re just looking for a better opportunity.”
Protesters were chanting and waving sings in both English and Spanish, using slogans like; “Immigrants pick the crops that you eat every day!” and “Broken system, broken families.”
The hope of the protesters is to convince Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal to veto the legislation.
“We’re from Georgia and we don’t want our state to pass any legislation that’s really anti-immigrant,” said Amy Ray, of Indigo Girls, who performed at the protest. “We feel like the state is really richer and more productive with the Hispanic community here and we want to show them our support.”
The legislation, sponsored by Republican lawmakers, would require employers to use a federal database to check immigration statuses of any new hires. In addition it would allow state law-enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone who can’t produce an acceptable form of identification – similar to the controversial Arizona immigration law. In the United States however, it is not required by law that anyone carry government issues identification cards.
“We are the voice for these common sense Georgians and this kind of protest only bolsters our resolve,” argued Republican lawmakers.
A final bill remains in the legislature, if passed it will then head to the governor for signature.