Protests across US over Arizona immigration law

People make their way north on Broadway Street during a march and rally for federal immigration reform and a protest against Arizona's controversial immigration law, in Los Angeles Saturday, May 1, 2010. Activists said outrage over Arizona's controversial immigration law "awakened a sleeping giant" Saturday as rallies demanding federal immigration reform kicked off in cities across the country.

Tens of thousands of people have joined protests in the US against a controversial anti-immigration law introduced in Arizona.

The biggest protest took place in Los Angeles, but others were planned in more than 70 cities across the country.

The law requires local police to question anyone they suspect of being in the United States illegally.

The protesters say the law could lead to Hispanics being targeted, and inflame racial tensions.

In Los Angeles, police estimated 100,000 people had joined a march led by singer Gloria Estefan.

“It’s the right of every American to protect where they live,” she told the crowd.

“But that doesn’t give them a reason to place a law that could create racism and discrimination.”

The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani, at the rally, says there were banners calling for a boycott of Arizona, and even one portraying the state’s governor, Jan Brewer, as Hitler.

Many of the protesters waved the US flag, while some carried slogans appealing for US President Barack Obama to intervene.

The law was signed earlier this month by Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer, who said it “protects every American citizen”.

Under the new rules, those unable to show that they are legally allowed in the US could be given six-month jail sentences and fined $2,500 (about £1,600).

Supporters of the bill say it will help bring illegal immigration under control in Arizona – a state which is the main entry point for undocumented immigrants into the US.

The state is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

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