Organizer: Hundreds rally outside Arpaio jail
Web Producer: Taylor Avey
PHOENIX (AP) - Protesters of Arizona's immigration law held signs and chanted as they marched to the Maricopa County jail in downtown Phoenix on Saturday.
Salvador Rez, an organizer of the immigrant rights rally, said a group of 300 to 400 people rallied outside the Fourth Avenue jail run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Chris Hegstrom of the sheriff's office estimated that number was closer to 100 to 150.
The jail was picked as a rally location because organizers allege that Latinos have been racially profiled in the sheriff's immigration patrols. Arpaio has vigorously denied the profiling allegations.
The protest comes during the same week that a federal judge gave police the go-ahead to start enforcing the law's most contentious section. The provision in question requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.
Rez said that among the protesters were some of the first arrestees under the new law. He said they were released by federal immigration officials because they had no criminal history and were not considered a priority.
The rally outside the jail lasted less than an hour. Hegstrom said it did not disrupt operations at the jail.
Hegstrom added that the sheriff was aware that similar protests have occurred over the years, but that "it doesn't change the way we do business."
"Sheriff Joe Arpaio says we will continue to enforce the immigration law," Hegstrom said.
Rez said that the group had since returned to a nearby restaurant where they started the march and intended to continue demonstrating there for several more hours.
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