Both sides in Arizona immigration dispute plan protests Saturday

Rival rallies supporting and opposing Arizona’s new immigration law will turn the Valley into a crossroads for protests this weekend, with organizers predicting their events will draw thousands from Arizona and across the country.

Local police will not say exactly how many people they expect each event to draw, but there was a possibility of large crowds downtown and in Tempe as groups on both sides of the issue hold major events Saturday.

Saturday will begin with a march and rally through Phoenix by opponents, with supporters rallying in Tempe late in the day.

Both sides are trying to build support in what has become an emotional, and sometimes divisive, debate over the new law approved by the Arizona Legislature as Senate Bill 1070 and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The law has generated national debate, prompting boycotts of Arizona, counter boycotts, lawsuits, condemnation from the Obama administration and moves in some states to create similar legislation.

“Arizona has become the testing ground for the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in our country,” Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said Tuesday.

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