MABLETON, Ga. (AP) -- About 100 students walked out of class at a suburban Atlanta high school on Tuesday, protesting Georgia's new law cracking down on illegal immigration and a new Georgia university system policy that effectively bars illegal immigrant students from the five most competitive state colleges and universities.
The students at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton left class at 2 p.m. and rallied outside the school. Several illegal immigrant students shared their stories and some other students expressed their support for their illegal immigrant friends.
"I feel like doing something like this raises awareness and also shows our voices," said Dulce Guerrero, a senior who was brought to the U.S. illegally when she was 2 years old. "I'm here to give all undocumented students a face."
It wasn't immediately clear if the students would face any penalty for walking out of class. A woman who answered the phone at the school said the administration had no comment and a spokesman for the Cobb County School District did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Georgia's new law would authorize law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of certain suspects and would penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in certain circumstances. It also would require many employers to check the immigration status of new hires.
The Georgia university system implemented a new policy last year that would bar any school that had rejected an academically qualified applicant in the previous two year from accepting illegal immigrants.
The students called May 17 a symbolic day because that was the day in 1954 that the Supreme Court handed down a decision that declared segregated schools unconstitutional.
The Rev. Timothy McDonald, a civil rights activist, addressed the students gathered outside the school. He is a former staff member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that led the movement for equality and justice for blacks.
"There is no doubt in my mind that if Dr. King were alive today, he would be here," McDonald said. "I am a firm believer that immigration is the 21st century civil rights issue and we will win."