L.A. Mayor: Illegal Immigration Adds to ‘Economic Might’ of Deficit-Ridden California

May 13, 2010 - 3:29 PM
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says illegal immigration adds to the 'economic might' of California, which now faces a budget deficit of more than $18 billion.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports a boycott of Arizona which his city's council approved 13-1. (Official state of California photo)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told CNSNews.com Thursday that illegal immigration has not contributed to his city's budget problems, but, on the contrary, that illegal immigration adds to the “economic might” of California.

"In California, I think there’s a real sense that these immigrants provide a great deal to the economic might of the state," said Villaraigosa.

Facing a state budget shortfall of more than $18 billion, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected today to release a revised state budget for the state fiscal year that begins on July 1 that will include dramatic cuts in state programs.
 
Villaraigosa supported the move the Los Angeles City Council took this week to approve a boycott of the state of Arizona because of a new Arizona law that requires local law enforcment officers to check the immigration status of persons they legally come into contact with when there is a reasonable basis to suspect that person is an illegal alien. After Villaraigosa testified at a congressional hearing on Thursday, CNSNews.com asked him what impact illegal immigration has had on the fiscal sitution of his city, which is now running a $485 million deficit.

“With the city having passed this boycott of Arizona, do you think illegal immigration is a contributor to the budget problems in L.A.?” CNSNews.com asked.

“No,” Villaraigosa responded.

Villaraigosa told CNSNews.com he believes immigration in general is a net plus for the country, that most of the estimated 12 million people in the country illegally contribute to the "economic might of the nation," and that the illegal immigrants in California contribute to the "economic might of the state."
 
“Look, all of the studies show--and there have been many studies on this issue--that there are a lot of benefits to immigration, more benefits than there are detriments if you will,” Villaraigosa said.
 
“The fact of the matter is we have a broken immigration system. The fact of the matter is we need to secure our borders, while also providing a pathway for citizenship for the 12 million people, most of whom are working and contributing to the economic might of the nation,” the mayor said.
 
“In California, I think there’s a real sense that these immigrants provide a great deal to the economic might of the state, while at the same time give us an opportunity to take the lead on this issue of really pushing the federal government to fix a broken immigration system.”

 

Villaraigosa was in Washington, D.C., to testify before the House Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures to discuss getting federal dollars for Los Angeles to help speed a massive transportation infrastructure project the city is undertaking.
 
Villaraigosa told CNSNews.com that dealing with the the problem of illegal immigration is the federal government’s job, and that he believes Arizona's new law is unconstitutional for that reason.
 
“Well, as you know, cities and states don’t have the authority to enforce our immigration law,” he said. “Under our Constitution, that’s a federal responsibility. That’s why the Arizona law is unconstitutional and frankly the wrong way to go. Instead of pointing fingers and polarizing our communities, what we need to be doing is rolling up our sleeves, working together to secure our borders and provide a pathway to citizenship.”
 
The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on Wednesday to approve a boycott of Arizona to protest Arizona's immigration-enforcement law.
 
On April 29, Villaraigosa issued a statement calling that law “anti-immigrant” and “anti-American."

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Transcript of Mayor Villaraigosa’s exchange with CNSNews.com:
 
CNSNews.com: I know L.A. passed this Measure R during a recession, but I still wanted to ask you about the budget. With the city having passed this boycott of Arizona, do you think that illegal immigration is a contributor to the budget problems in L.A.?
 
Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa: No.
 
CNSNews.com: What about to California at large?
 
Mayor Villaraigosa: Look, all of the studies show—and there have been many studies on this issue—that there are a lot of benefits to immigration, more benefits than there are detriments if you will. The fact of the matter is we have a broken immigration system. The fact of the matter is we need to secure our borders, while also providing a pathway for citizenship for the 12 million people, most of whom are working and contributing to the economic might of the nation. In California, I think there’s a real sense that these immigrants provide a great deal to the economic might of the state, while at the same time give us an opportunity to take the lead on this issue of really pushing the federal government to fix a broken immigration system.
 
CNSNews.com: So, is cracking down on illegal immigration not part of the budget solution then? That’s a separate issue?
 
Mayor Villaraigosa: Well, as you know, cities and states don’t have the authority to enforce our immigration law. Under our Constitution, that’s a federal responsibility. That’s why the Arizona law is unconstitutional and frankly the wrong way to go. Instead of pointing fingers and polarizing our communities, what we need to be doing is rolling up our sleeves, working together to secure our borders and provide a pathway to citizenship.
 
CNSNews.com: Thanks.