Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called today for comprehensive federal immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
The mayor's call -- made during a policy speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. -- comes as Congress and President Barack Obama are focused on looming battles over gun control and whether to raise the ceiling on how much the nation can borrow to pay for its spending.
The mayor argued that immigration reform is an economic imperative and should not fall off of Washington's political agenda.
"Washington should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Congress is fully capable of enacting responsible gun control and comprehensive immigration reform,'' Villaraigosa said. "The time for half-measures and one-sided approaches is over.''
A new immigration policy should include six tenets, with a pathway to citizenship as the central premise, Villaraigosa said. Others included a focus on keeping families together, incentives to retain high-skilled and agricultural immigrants and a stronger employment verification system, he said.
"The bottom line in this debate is full citizenship,'' Villaraigosa said. "Immigrants don't deserve half a handshake. They deserve a full embrace.''
Legalizing the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants would provide a $1.5 trillion boost over 10 years and generate $4.5 billion in new tax revenue within three years, Villaraigosa said, citing figures from the Center for American Progress.
- City News Service