PHOENIX — Thousands of people from around the country marched to the Arizona state Capitol on Saturday to protest the state's tough new crackdown on illegal immigration.
Marchers carrying signs, banners and flags from the United States and Mexico filled a five-mile stretch of central Phoenix. Dozens of police officers lined the route, and helicopters hovered overhead.
Police declined to estimate the size of the crowd, but it appeared that at least 10,000 to 20,000 protesters braved temperatures that were forecast to reach 95 degrees by mid-afternoon. Organizers had said they expected the demonstration to bring as many as 50,000 people.
Opponents of the law suspended their boycott against Arizona and bused in protesters from around the country. Some used umbrellas or cardboard signs to protect their faces from the sun. Volunteers handed out water bottles from the beds of pickup trucks, and organizers set up three water stations along the route.
About 20 people were treated for heat or fatigue-related symptoms, and seven of them were taken to a hospital, said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson. There were no arrests or other incidents, he said.
The law's opponents also gathered elsewhere. About 300 people rallied at the Texas Capitol in Austin, and another 300 people protested at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City demanding legalization for Mexican workers illegally in the United States.
Supporters of Arizona's law expected to draw thousands to a rally of their own Saturday evening at a baseball stadium in suburban Tempe, encouraging like-minded Americans to "buycott" Arizona by planning vacations in the state, to counteract the economic damage of boycotts.
Critics of the law, set to take effect July 29, say it unfairly targets Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling. Its supporters say Arizona is trying to enforce immigration laws because the federal government has failed to do so.
"I don't think that this law is American. I think it's discriminatory," said Chelsea Halstead, a 20-year-old college student from Flagstaff. "I'm offended by it because this is a nation founded by immigrants."