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ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 24 , 2011: "You must not give up," Representative John Lewis told the thousands of protesters gathered outside the Georgia capitol to loudly oppose two controversial pieces of legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. "We are all brothers and sisters we are all one family, " Lewis shouted to the cheering crowd. "If anyone of us is illegal we are all illegal. There are no illegal human beings. If any of you get arrested and go to jail I am prepared to go to jail with you. We will get justice in the state of Georgia!"
Police estimated approximately 6,500 people attended the event. Chanting and holding signs with such messages as "No human is illegal" and "Stop racial profiling," the crowd urged Gov. Nathan Deal to veto whichever bill state lawmakers ultimately approve.
Between speeches by immigration advocates, Democratic state lawmakers and religious leaders, the Indigo Girls performed for the large crowd.
Both the House and Senate have passed their own legislative packages aimed at undocumented immigration. The bills would provide stiff penalties for people who transport or offer aid to undocumented immigrants and give police the authority to check a suspect's immigration status if the officers have "probable cause," among other changes.
Critics, including civil and human rights groups, say the legislation would severely hinder Georgia industries dependent on migrant labor and likely trigger tourism and product boycotts.