“Now, the sun may be setting on my administration, but I’m not riding off into the sunset just yet,” he told an audience at the National Press Club. “The agenda is still packed with challenges and many of those challenges demand action and chief among them is immigration reform.”
Antonio Villaraigosa, who is the first Latino in more than 130 years to serve as Mayor of Los Angeles, is also rumored to be in an upcoming cabinet position possibly even Secretary of Transportation.
The event hosted at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., allowed him to elaborate on what he believes are core principles on immigration with the bottom line being full citizenship.
Antonio Villaraigosa: “we want a path to citizenship”
“We can not accept second-class citizenship,” Villaraigosa told reporters. “We want a path to citizenship—at the same time, we have to apply the law along the border because we are wasting more money for applying the law on the border—more people return to Mexico than they’re coming in to the U.S.”
That follows a day after the New York Times reported general guidelines the Obama administration will be enacting in terms of legislation. The argument being that there will be one “fast push” for citizenship of undocumented persons.
The move is rumored to come in the early months, possibly near the president’s State of the Union speech. Yet, that also hits on hardline conservatives like Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) who are already indicating that legislation supporting a pathway to citizenship will have a difficult time passing the House.
Other Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio mentioned they’re also working on a possible solution. In an interview with Wall Street Journal, the Senator outlined a set of principles of what some advocates including America’s Voice are indicating are consistent with the kind of reform that is favored by the Democrats. Although, some still say it’s a piece meal approach.
Rubio’s proposition, according to the Wall Street Journal, does not advocate for a full pathway to citizenship. Instead, he outlined first the issuance of work permits for those who are in the country without papers.
The Mayor later said that Rubio has previously echoed proposals for four pieces of legislation.
“What we don’t want that to be is an excuse for not doing something along comprehensive immigration. That means a pathway to citizenship—I would hope there is bipartisan support for that notion,” he said.
The Mayor has strong support from the business community and is seen by supporters as someone who can leverage more debate among Republicans and Democrats. Mickey Ibarra, president of the Ibarra Strategy Group, a government relations and public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C., is also a long-time supporter and friend of Villaraigosa.
Will Antonio Villaraigosa be appointed to President Obama’s cabinet?
He indicated that the Mayor, who was also a surrogate for the Obama campaign, would be “obviously” seen as someone that remains atop the list for a Senior appointment.
“He is someone that can talk to both sides,” said Ibarra of Villaraigosa. “He is someone that is egregious, friendly, charismatic, someone that everyone knows about.”
The Mayor who is unable to re-run in 2013 has left a legacy that is also mired with controversy.
As previously reported in VOXXI, “he had gotten himself elected mayor at the worst of coming economic times, with the bad luck of unprecedented and unending budget crisis, impending layoffs and increasingly disgruntled labor unions.” He also had an affair with a Spanish TV reporter that marked his political reputation.
Still, he reinforced that even when compromise is not reached in politics he looks forward and slyly dodged any indication that he is slighted for higher appointment. Instead, he clarified that he expects to be in Washington D.C. frequently in the coming months working with the conference of Mayors.
“I know Barack Obama. I trust him. I know our president not only has or will continue to promote a cabinet that looks like America. That is balanced gender wise—I have no doubt in my mind that when it’s all said and done that will be the case,” Villaraigosa said.