Decreeing undocumented status in the U.S. as a felony charge, the proposed Sensenbrenner Bill incited some of the largest and most powerful immigrant rights demonstrations in recent history.
Named for its Wisconsin Representative sponsor, the bill also included provisions to increase penalties for people assisting or encouraging undocumented immigrants to cross the border. Furthermore, it proposed to strengthen border enforcement, including the construction of 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Following the restrictive bill’s passage in the House of Representatives, immigrants and allies marched in protests across the nation. In Los Angeles alone, some 500,000 people took to the streets. Though the bill passed in the House of Representatives, it failed in the Senate. Ultimately, the protest movement that spurred from this proposed restrictive bill continued to grow and raise attention for a new conversation on comprehensive immigration reform.