MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA, KENNEDY AND SALAZAR ON FINAL IMMIGRATION PUSH
As the Senate debates immigration reform, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined Senators Kennedy and Salazar in the final push to fix our broken system. As Mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa knows the problem up close and understand that if this bill doesn't pass it will be years before we have the chance again. He is helping the Senators pass this important bill -- a record investment in border security.
Below are Senator Kennedy's remarks at this press conference, as prepared for delivery:
"I'm pleased to be here today with my colleagues as well as with a very important leader in this country on strengthening our borders and reforming our immigration system - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Mayor Villaraigosa understands the urgency of our immigration crisis. He represents millions of Hispanic Americans proud of this country but anxious for those living here in the shadows and others waiting years to join their families, businesses and farmers in search of workers, and American citizens concerned about broken borders and a system that needs to be reformed.
Yesterday, the Senate demonstrated that it could gather the political will to move our immigration debate forward.
But, we have a long way to go. The voices of opposition are strong, and there are a small number in the Senate who do not want progress. They don't want a record $4.4 billion investment in border security, strong employer enforcement, and the elimination of a shadow economy that protects our workers and our wages. We know what they are against, but we don't know what they are for. The American people are demanding action, and they will not stand for small political factions getting in the way.
We know the price of inaction. Raids and other enforcement will escalate, terrorizing our communities and businesses. The 12 million undocumented immigrants will soon be millions more. Sweatshops will grow and hurt American workers and wages. State and local governments will take matters into their own hands and pass anti-immigrant laws that demean our values and hurt our country. If we don't act now, this problem will grow far worse in the years we'll have to wait before we can take action again.
The bipartisan bill before the Senate is a tough, practical and fair solution. I'm pleased to have the support of Mayor Villaraigosa and the Western Governors. The urgency could not be more clear. We are facing a pitch battle in the Senate this week. The vote will be close. But it's an issue that we cannot ignore."