Protesters Rally Outside Immigration Office Over HB 87

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ATLANTA,None - Thousands of people turned out Saturday to turn up the heat against Georgia's new immigration law.

Two days into the new law, protesters are calling for an end to it.

Marchers walked boldly by the Immigration and Customs office in downtown Atlanta. But in the crowd there was plenty of fear.

Some fear the new law will leave families divided. “If they deport their parents then who are we going to have to take care of us? We can’t take care of ourselves,” protester Hector Badillo said.

There is also fear even legal residents will be unfairly treated. “This is the first time I feel I’ve been targeted because of how I look. It’s been very uncomfortable and sometimes I don’t feel secure,” Jose Sotomayor said.

Various Latino groups have held rallies for months to protest House Bill 87, and organizers will admit there’s nothing different about Saturday’s march. The hope is to send a consistent message that they’re not going away.

“These people work very, very hard. They get paid less than the minimum wage; they stay quiet about it because it was their only choice. They come here to work basically. They come here to work,” Gigi Penaflower said.

Supporters of the law say that’s part of the problem. Undocumented workers let businesses get away with lowering wages, leaving no incentive to hire legal residents.

“There are a lot of people out there that are desperate to feed their family. Desperate to put food on the table. People will do just about anything when times are tough,” State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said.

Under the new law, many businesses will have to check an employee’s ability to work, and it is a felony to falsify documents to try to get around the system. But what some see as fair, others see as discrimination and hate.

“This law clearly tells us there not welcoming immigrants,” James Kim said.

While the crowd is lashing out on HB 87, several of the people in the crowd told Channel 2 Action News much of this should really be directed toward the federal government to create an easier channel for immigrants to register and work legally in the U.S.


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