[UPDATE] Thousands Protest Georgia Immigration Bills

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
Thousands of people gathered in front of the Georgia state Capitol to protest proposed immigration laws.

The Associated Press
Amanda Underwood, 19, of Lilburn, Ga., protests state bills yet to fully pass legislation which are meant to crack down on illegal immigration, during a rally at the capitol, Thursday, March 24, 2011, Atlanta.

[UPDATE] 4-5 9:05 PM--

ATLANTA (AP) -- Eight young illegal immigrants were arrested Tuesday for sitting in the middle of a busy street in front of the Georgia Capitol, protesting their lack of access to higher education in a scene reminiscent of civil rights demonstrations decades ago.

The group, made up of mostly students, believe their plight is similar to movement the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led, and they met with former activists from the 1960s to hash out their civil disobedience plan. As the foreign-born youngsters sat in the road, at times holding hands, hundreds of supporters lined the street and cheered in support as the illegal immigrants were led away in handcuffs.

Before the sit-in the youngsters, their voices trembling, each stood before the crowd, took a microphone and announced: "I am undocumented, and I am unafraid."

In telling their stories, they took a risk like many of their parents made when they came to the U.S. to find a better life. Many said that, despite their grades, they have found their immigration status might prevent them from going to college, in part because they can't afford costly out-of-state tuition fees. Most also don't qualify for federal aid and at times, state help.

The Rev. Timothy McDonald was one of the activists who met with the students at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the room where King and other preachers founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization that led the movement for equality and justice for blacks.

"We felt the connection," McDonald said. "We pointed out that there has never been a successful movement of any kind without young people, and that was especially true of the civil rights movement. It was the students who filled up the jails, not the preachers."

The group protested in an effort to bring national attention to the issue of equal access to education. They are also upset with what they see as anti-immigrant legislation in Georgia and elsewhere across the country.

South Carolina passed a law banning illegal immigrants from attending state colleges and universities, but a similar measure in Georgia failed. However, Georgia's university system late last year approved a rule that essentially bans illegal immigrants from the five most competitive public schools in the state, if those colleges had rejected academically eligible students because of a high number of applicants.

The protest was not unlike the lunch counter sit-ins led by students in Greensboro, N.C., more than 50 years ago, and was similar to efforts staged recently across the country, including a sit-in at the Tucson, Ariz., offices of U.S. Sen. John McCain.

The protests are part of The Dream is Coming project, which was created to advocate for the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for certain young people who were brought here at a young age. It has failed to pass Congress several times, most recently in December.

One of the protesters in Georgia, Dulce Guerrero, said she was done being afraid.

"I've been living in fear for years, not knowing what's going to happen to my family," said the 18-year-old. "I'm tired of it. Today, I'm here to tell the world that I'm undocumented. I'm here for a lot of my friends who are still in the shadows. They need to step up and step out. There is no more being neutral."

The protesters were charged with obstructing traffic. Atlanta police do not participate in a local-federal partnership that empowers local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, so the likelihood of the students being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was low.

Atlanta, GA (AP) - Thousands of people gathered in front of the
Georgia state Capitol to protest proposed immigration laws.

They waved signs, chanted and cheered as speakers addressed the
crowd. Police estimated the crowd at roughly 5,000.

Speakers urged Georgia lawmakers not to pass proposed
immigration legislation they say will harm Georgia's economy and
lead to racial profiling. They called on Gov. Nathan Deal to commit
to vetoing those bills.

A group of Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Matt Ramsey who
authored one of the bills, released a statement saying they are
acting on behalf of Georgia's citizens who are tired of losing jobs
to illegal immigrants.

Folk rock duo the Indigo Girls performed at the event and said
they don't want to see the bills pass.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Carlos Location: GA on Apr 8, 2011 at 01:38 PM
    If you guys would understand that our economy thrives from immigrants.. who takes the jobs americans don't want? Is really dumb. I hope you guys know that the economy is going to get worst and worst. Immigration is not the issue. If we fix everyones status things will get a lot better. So many immigrants want to serve in the millitary but can't due to their status. Think of them as if it was you. Is about being human not just "American".
  • by Jim Location: Gadsden County on Apr 8, 2011 at 08:37 AM
    If you are not here legal. Go home.......
  • by Georgia Boy Location: Cairo on Apr 8, 2011 at 05:44 AM
    They should have put in a stipulation that only English will be used in the classrooms of this State.
  • by Chris Location: GA on Apr 8, 2011 at 05:35 AM
    Will everyone PLEASE quit pulling the RACE CARD on every single issue!!!!!!!! The issue here is the fact that we have illegals in then country that want to live off of what Americans, rather it be black, white, hispanic, indian, ect........, who have come to this country the right way and have worked for what they have. We have those that want to protest OUR government for a hand out and equal rights from a system that they do not contribute too. Have them go back to their country and protest their government for equal share or come to America the right way and work for your share.
  • by perspective on Apr 7, 2011 at 07:38 AM
    Last fall at FSU roughly 35,000 young people applied for less than 7,000 slots. Competition is fierce at many state colleges. So tell me why illegal non-citizens deserve access to scare resources more than people who haven't broken the law?
  • by grannie Location: grady co on Apr 7, 2011 at 04:56 AM
    you do not have to be black to be a slave!!!!!!!! if you have to work and your boss knows how bad you need to , you are his slave, they treat you like they want to good or bad and its not because of your skin color, its because they can do it and get away w/ it!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by john Location: United States of America on Apr 7, 2011 at 04:36 AM
    ICE should go to these criminal-supporter gatherings; what a deportation haul they could make!! Immigration crime solution: seal/control the American borders!! Now!
    • reply
      by Black American on Apr 7, 2011 at 05:22 AM in reply to john
      Amen, John. Amen.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 7, 2011 at 12:30 AM
    Ian- then you pay for them.
  • by Ian Location: dimitrovivo@hotmail.com on Apr 6, 2011 at 05:12 PM
    Why do angry old white people always need someone to blame for their failures in life? Talk about the South, redneck racists and stereotypes. Thank God Billy Bob is on the wrong side of history and demographics! No human is illegal!
    • reply
      by Trust Me on Apr 7, 2011 at 04:58 AM in reply to Ian
      Old white people aren't the only ones tired of them. This Black American is tired of this immigration problem as well. I know Americans of many different races and backgrounds want to see our government do somethiing about these illegals. And yes they are illegal when they don't go through the proper procedures to obtain citizenship. In other countries they are thrown into jail for this crime, but in America they get healthcare, benefits and free education that is coming out of the tax payers pockets. So, they ain't gotta go home, but they've got to the hell outta here.
  • by Anon on Apr 6, 2011 at 04:51 PM
    Obama just told a group of illegals last week "We don't want to deport you, we want you to succeed". Six months ago, he told a group of illegals to "punish your enemies". I just read last night that 61% of ALL immigrants- legal and illegal- are getting government assistance. The bottom line- we can't afford it anymore and our couldn't government could care less.
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