(WASHINGTON) — Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pounced on Mitt Romney’s immigration stance Wednesday night before a crowd of Washington, D.C., lawmakers and officials honoring the mayor for his public service.
“For the first time in modern memory, a major political party is poised to nominate a presidential candidate who has abandoned immigration reform and instead advocates self-deportation,” he said.
Villaraigosa, who was presented with the 2012 Edward R. Roybal Award for Outstanding Public Service by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, didn’t mention Romney by name, but called out the GOP front-runner for rejecting past bipartisan efforts on immigration reform.
“Democrats and Republicans have recognized that our immigration system is broken and that it needs to be fixed. Now they haven’t always agreed on the route but they’ve agreed on the destination,” the mayor said. “Unfortunately, now the likely Republican nominee for president has clearly rejected this rough consensus.”
As immigration reform continues to be a hot-button issue on and off the campaign trail, Villaraigosa reminded the crowd that the country was built by immigrants.
“We know that the reason we came here was because this was the place that embraced us. This was the place that said, ‘If you work hard, and you play by the rules and believe in this great country, you will be rewarded.’ We love that America,” the California-born Democrat said.
Villaraigosa, 59, also used the stage to call for the passage of the DREAM Act and the payroll-tax cut. While honored that he was awarded for his public service, he noted that there was still much work to do.
“We can’t let every proposal for a path to citizenship be drowned out by a knee-jerk chorus of opposition,” he said. “We can’t be a country where ‘show me your papers’ is routinely heard on our sidewalks and in our streets.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio