Nightly News   |  May 29, 2010

Thousands protest Arizona immigration law

Thousands of people on both sides of the debate over illegal immigration took to the streets in Arizona on Saturday, where their controversial new law is scheduled to go into effect July 29th. Telemundo's Janet Rodriguez reports.

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: Back here at home tonight, tens of thousands of people on both sides of the debate over illegal immigration are taking to the streets in Arizona , where a tough new law is scheduled to go into effect on July 29th . Janet Rodriguez of our sister network Telemundo has been covering the rallies and joins us tonight from Phoenix .

JANET RODRIGUEZ reporting: Heading toward the state capital , a five-mile stretch of protesters, an estimated 30,000 marched through the streets of downtown Phoenix with dozens of police officers standing by.

Unidentified Man #1: We march because we recognize we are not marching with criminals.

RODRIGUEZ: The law, signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer and due to go into effect in late July, requires state and local police officers to check the status of people they believe are in the country illegally. Critics say the law unfairly targets Hispanics , who make up about a third of the state's population. Recent college grad Martin Moreno worries about racial profiling.

Mr. MARTIN MORENO: It's not fair that people have to live in a state and feel afraid of the police, afraid of their local government.

RODRIGUEZ: Peter Morales came all the way from Boston .

Mr. PETER MORALES: This law violates our fundamental principles of human dignity.

RODRIGUEZ: Susan Doan from Long Beach .

Ms. SUSAN DOAN: People don't support this law, that -- it's a minority of racists that does support this law.

RODRIGUEZ: Among the sea of signs, calls for President Obama to take the lead in the immigration debate and live up to his promise for immigration overhaul.

State Representative BEN MIRANDA (Democrat, Arizona): This president promised immigration reform this year and has not delivered. The end result is going to be a cost to his legacy.

Unidentified Man: Being a Nazi is un-American, don't you know that?

RODRIGUEZ: J.T. Ready was a lone voice in this crowd supporting the law, unfazed by the number of protesters.

Mr. J.T. READY: We're taking a stand against this, that numbers don't matter. It doesn't matter how many that they bring against us, we're still going to stand up against it.

RODRIGUEZ: And, Lester , supporters of the bill who will be holding their own rally later on today say SB1070 's critical and is long overdue and is critical to securing Arizona 's border. Lester :

HOLT: Janet Rodriguez from Telemundo , thank