On May first 2006 Los Angeles was crippled by the movement of more than 1,000,000 people who took to the streets. They were there to protest the House of Representatives bill H.R. 4437: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.
The bill would have criminalized people who provide help to illegal aliens, and stripped asylum seekers of fundamental due process protections. It also would have introduced new penalties for church workers, schoolteachers, humanitarian workers, and others who worked to aid illegal immigrants -- imposing minimum five year prison sentences.
The tensions surrounding the issues addressed by HR4437 had been escalating for years, and by the time of the 2006 "Day Without an Immigrant" protests, both sides of the debate were well-organized and deeply entrenched in grassroots organizing and actions. Supporters of the of the bill argued that it was a necessary step for securing American borders and stabilizing the demand on resources. Opponents argued that it was unfair, inhumane, and extreme in the way it dealt with immigrants and their helpers -- and pushed for a version that would have established a guest-worker program, would have kept families together, and would have created easier paths towards citizenship, among other things.