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Mayor Villaraigosa portrays Obama as true champion of immigrants

September 06, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa delivers an address to the gathering.
Los Angeles Mayor and Democratic National Convention Chairman Antonio… (Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images )

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Noting his family’s historic roots in Mexico and his own up-from-nowhere story, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night that President Obama is far superior to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when it comes to protecting the rights of immigrants.

Villaraigosa told the gathering, which he has chaired for three days, that Obama “is fighting for all of us,” particularly with his issuance of an executive order to prevent the deportation of about 800,000 young immigrants, who are in the U.S. without proper documents.

The mayor took a shot, in contrast, at Romney’s suggestion that cutting back services for illegal immigrants would cause many of them to leave the U.S. of their own will. “Instead of supporting their dream,” Villaraigosa said, “Gov. Romney wants to make life so miserable, so oppressive, so intolerable for them that they would leave behind the life they've built, leave their children behind and ‘self-deport.’”

"How about that for family values?"

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Set to end his second term as mayor next summer, Villaraigosa has had a heady and occasionally trying week in Charlotte. He has been in great demand as a speaker at a gathering where Democrats have been eager to highlight their support among Latinos.

He looked awkward, though, as he called for three voice votes Wednesday to resolve a suddenly contentious floor fight over platform planks that would include the word “God” and recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. Villaraigosa said those positions (supported by Obama) carried the convention with the support of two-thirds of delegates shouting out their affirmation. Many in attendance, though, didn't hear it that way. Nonetheless, the positions passed and the convention moved on.

Villaraigosa paid tribute to his grandfather, who came to Los Angeles a century ago with “little money, even less English but an unshakable faith in the relationship between work and reward.” The mayor portrayed himself as a beneficiary of the American dream and concluded his eight-minute speech asking the crowd to work hard to send Obama back to office.

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