L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa: Rubio's Dream Act would create "second class status"

(CBS News) On "Face the Nation," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said a version of the Dream Act for undocumented students proposed by Republican Senator Marco Rubio would not work.

"I think that Sen. Rubio's version of the Dream Act would create a second class status for folks," Villaraigosa said, referring to a framework by the Florida Senator.

Rubio, who is also considered a potential vice presidential pick for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, has said he is considering his own version of the Dream Act. His unwritten version is reported to give young undocumented immigrants legal status - not citizenship - for joining the military or receiving a higher education.

Villaraigosa criticized Romney's opposition to the Dream Act, which has become an issue this campaign season as Hispanic voters make up 11 percent of the electorate (and an even larger percentage in some states, including in the Southwest).

"[Romney] said the Dream Act would be a handout and he's campaigned with Kris Kobach who authored the Arizona and the Alabama laws," Villaraigosa said, referring to the tough immigration laws in two states. Kobach is the current Kansas Secretary of State and an unpaid adviser to the Romney campaign.

Meanwhile, former Governor Haley Barbour, R-Miss., insisted that Hispanic voters are most concerned about the economy and are "in play" for Republican office-seekers because of the economy. "There's no question the Hispanic vote is a very important vote, and it's a very important vote in some states," he said.

"Unemployment among Hispanics is higher than among others in the United States, particularly among young Latinos. They are being hurt worse by the policies of this administration, and don't think that doesn't enter heavily into their and their families' thinking," Barbour said.

Villaraigosa, however, told Schieffer that Democrats' immigration proposals are good for the economy.

"I agree with Gov. Barbour that the biggest issue is going to be the economy, but [immigration] is going to be a big issue, and if you look at the Dream Act as an example, if we were to give kids pathway to citizenship, or the military, it would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy," Villaraigosa said.

Barbour said the Democrats are not serious about passing immigration legislation.

"They never brought it up the first two years when they had 60 Democrats in the Senate, huge majority in the House. They don't bring it up until after the 2010 elections. I mean, how serious is that?" Barbour rhetorically asked.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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