07/03/11— Thousands of people took to the streets in Georgia on Saturday to protest the state’s new anti-immigration law, commonly referred to HB47, which went into effect on Friday. Police and civil organizations estimate that between 8,000 and 14,000 men, women, and children turned out for the protest in front of the capitol building in Atlanta. Many protestors argue that the law creates an unwelcoming environment for immigrants and minorities. On Monday, a federal judge blocked a portion of HB47, which would have allowed police to check the immigration status of people who they suspect do not have proper documentation. This same judge also blocked another portion of the law that would punish people who knowingly harbor and transport illegal immigrants. Parts of the law that did pass include making it illegal to apply for a job with false information, and the creation of a review board that will investigate complaints of whether government officials are abiding by state laws on illegal immigration.
Many of the participants attended the protest for personal reasons. Jessica Bamarca, a 13-year old, carried a banner during that read, “How would you feel if they separated your family?,” which brought to light the possible effects that HB47 will have on some families residing in the United States. Her mother and sister are illegal immigrants from Guatemala and she fears that if they are deported, she would be left in the United States alone.
Four other states aside from Georgia have also initiated an anti-immigration law, including Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah, saying that their similar laws derived from the lack of action from the federal authorities to address illegal immigration.