For the AJC
About 100 students at Cobb County‘s Pebblebrook High School left class early Tuesday to protest Georgia’s new immigration law. The group of mostly Hispanic students gathered at the flagpole in front of the school shouting “undocumented and unafraid” and “education, not deportation.”
Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s tough new immigration enforcement measure into law Friday. Among other things, House Bill 87 authorized local and state police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects and arrest illegal immigrants and take them to federal jails. Much of the law is set to take effect July 1.
HB 87’s supporters say illegal immigrants are burdening the state resources, including schools. Opponents say the measure is pre-empted by federal law.
Under rules the State Board of Regents approved in October, illegal immigrants are barred from attending any University System of Georgia campus that had to turn away academically qualified students for the past two years. The regents’ move was in response to concerns that these students were taking away spots from those who are legally in the country.
Students at the south Cobb school carried signs reading, “We want reform of one solution, stop destroying families.” and “Refuse Georgia’s college ban. We want reform.” The students said they chose May 17 for the protest because it is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in schools.
Rich Pellegrino, executive director of Cobb Immigrant Alliance, said many of the students came to the United States when they were younger and are here illegally.
“Kids work hard to follow the American dream and can’t go to college,” he said.
Pebblebrook sophomore Ricardo Alcazar was 2 years old when his family moved to Georgia. He is an illegal immigrant and wants to become a scientist.
“I don’t know anything about Mexico,” Alcazar said. “I am here today to support my people and fight for change so I can stay.”
Staff writer Jeremy Redmon contributed to this article.