Thousands of immigrant rights supporters filled a major Phoenix thoroughfare Friday as they marched toward the office of U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl in a rally call for a more humane reform of immigration laws.
“They’re here for the American Dream,” said Malissa Greer, 29, who joined the crowd estimate by police to be at least 10,000 strong. “God created all of us. He’s not a God of the United States, he’s a God of the world.”
Lawmakers have been considering bills that, among other things, would make it a felony to be illegally in the United States, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The proposals have angered many in the Hispanic community.
On Thursday, more than 10,000 people filled the streets of Milwaukee in what was billed as “A Day Without Latinos” to protest efforts in Congress to target undocumented workers.
Hundreds of Los Angeles students walked out of their schools Friday morning to call attention to immigration issues.
Tens of thousands protest Georgia bill
In Georgia, activists said tens of thousands of workers didn’t show up at their jobs Friday after calls for a work stoppage to protest a bill passed by the Georgia House on Thursday. That bill, which has yet to gain Senate approval, would deny state services to adults living in the U.S. illegally and impose a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers from illegal immigrants.
Supporters say the Georgia measure is vital to homeland security and frees up limited state services for people legally entitled to them.
Opponents say it unfairly targets workers who are merely responding to the demands of some of the state’s largest industries.
“We oppose legislation that marginalizes the population,” said Josh Hopkins, spokesman for the Latin American Association in Atlanta. He said his office has been inundated with calls about the bill.
Teodoro Maus, one of the organizers of the Georgia protest, estimated as many as 80,000 Hispanics did not show up for work Friday.
About 200 converged on the steps of the Georgia Capitol, some wrapped in Mexican flags and holding signs reading: “Don’t panic, we’re Hispanic” and “We have a dream, too.”
Jennifer Garcia worried what the proposal would do to her family. She said her husband is an illegal Mexican immigrant.
“If they send him back to Mexico, who’s going to take care of them and me?” Garcia said of herself and her four children. “This is the United States. We need to come together and be a whole.”