Immigration Protest Rallies Held Across the Country

by Brian Mooar
NBC News

Around the country Saturday, a series of demonstrations and marches were held to protest Arizona's controversial new immigration law.

The law was passed a little more than a week ago, but Latino groups have mobilized to protest a law they believe will affect illegal and legal immigrants alike.

"Immigrants are not criminals," Gonzalo Venegas, organizer of the march in New York, said. "We're students, young people, workers and families."

The law makes it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to live or work in Arizona and gives police new powers to demand proof of citizenship.

"We believe what's happening in Arizona is a wakeup call for everybody," one protester in Charlotte said.

Protesters say the new law has legalized racial profiling - aimed at Hispanics.

Supporters say the law strengthens border security.

But both sides agree Washington hasn't done enough to fix the nation's immigration issues.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered near the White House to send a message to President Obama and Congress.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) was one of several demonstrators arrested in a show of civil disobedience at the White House gates.

The Arizona law takes effect at the end of July, but it's expected to face a series of legal challenges, likely ending at the Supreme Court.