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O4W: Protests against Ga. immigration law stepping up | News

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O4W: Protests against Ga. immigration law stepping up

ATLANTA -- Ever since portions of Georgia's controversial anti-immigration law took effect, the volume of the protests seems to have subsided.

But that may be about to change.

Georgia's new law has caught the attention of activists from across the country. Many of them were in Atlanta Wednesday night to help kick the tenor of the protests up a notch.

One of the first things you will notice are posters going up across the city with the face of a child wearing a hat that says "We are human." Organizers say the intent is to remind people that there's no such thing as an "illegal human."

The efforts are timed to coincide with a press conference Thursday by several groups, including the Cobb Immigrant Alliance and hunger striker Salvador Zamora, who are trying to force legislators to rescind the controversial HB-87 law.

The measure caught the attention as well of a young film-maker named Mario Rocha.

Rocha was convicted of a murder in Los Angeles that he didn't commit and spent more than a decade in prison. He was eventually set free from two life sentences through the work of pro bono attorneys and a local chaplain named Sister Janet Harris. 

Rocha says Georgia's new law -- and others like it -- will put people behind bars with a mandated rush to judgment similar to the one that falsely convicted him.

He supports the increased wave of activism on the part of those who oppose HB-87.

"Here in Georgia, undocumented people don't have a voice. Their humanity is stripped, and as someone who understands that, I not only came to oppose (the new law), but I also brought a large circle of folks who are very determined to build a bridge between the Latino community and the Black community."

Rocha's film crew has been shooting video around the city for a documentary on the impact the law is having.

"HB 87 mandates the racial profiling here," Rocha said. "And the black community and all communities need to understand that this is happening to one community, but in many ways it is happening to all of us."

But opponents are swimming against the tide in Georgia. The law has significant support among the public and politicians alike.

However, a federal judge ruled that some of its strictest provisions are unconstitutional, including police checks on immigration status. The decision makes it all but certain that the controversy will be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.