Los Angeles Mayor and chair of the 2012 Democratic Nation Convention Antonio Villaraigosa took the stage early in the evening Thursday at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, where he highlighted the divide on social issues between Democrats and Republicans.
After a busy few days that saw the mayor pushing for immigration reform in his home state of California to officially helping amend the DNC platform to include a mention of God and affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Villaraigosa took the stage after DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz where he praised the Obama administration’s progress in immigration reform while chiding the GOP and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“Instead of supporting their dream, Governor Romney wants to make their lives so miserable, so oppressive, so intolerable that they would leave behind the life they’ve built and ‘self-deport,’” Villaraigosa said, about the Romney’s quote about undocumented immigrants. “But we believe we’re a better country than that. And thanks to President Obama, as we keep on fighting for the DREAM Act, they can remain in the country they love.”
I know how I got here. I worked hard. And I grew up in an America where hard work paid off.
- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Villaraigosa’s speech came a day after a U.S. federal judge upheld the most contentious section of Arizona's controversial immigration law - dubbed the "show me your papers" provision by critics. The section allows police to carry out the 2010 law's requirement that officers, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
Speaking Wednesday as part of panel, Villaraigosa called on California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation prohibiting local law enforcement from detaining arrestees who are undocumented immigrants as well as effectively dull federal deportation efforts.
"Gov. Brown should sign it," Villaraigosa said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I expect him to sign it."
“California needs to be different from Arizona,” he added.
Villaraigosa has been a staunch supporter of immigration reform and vocal support on the issue, as well as his criticism of the Republican Party, has led him into the headlines more than once.
Last week, Villaraigosa drew fire for a comment he made claiming that the GOP used Latino speakers at the convention to win over Latino voters.
He said the GOP "can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname" and expect Latinos to vote Republican, adding that that was window dressing.
The Los Angeles mayor closed his speech on a personal note and, like many of his fellow Latino politicians in both parties, referenced his working class upbringing in Los Angeles.
“I know how I got here. I worked hard. And I grew up in an America where hard work paid off,” he said. “That’s the promise of this country. And this week, we came to Charlotte to restore that promise.”