Hundreds of U.S. mayors Sunday gave a standing ovation to the Phoenix mayor who has spoken out against Arizona's new immigration law.
Mayor Phil Gordon told those attending a U.S. Conference of Mayors panel that although he and his family have been the target of threats because of his criticism of the law, he regrets not speaking out earlier and demanding the federal government address immigration reform in the U.S.
He said reform needs to address security at the border, put an emphasis on finding dangerous criminals and eliminate the obstacles to citizenship and residency that cause many to shun the system.
"When a policy says wait 20 years, they can't come here legally,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, referring to the limited number of certain types of visas to workers and family members of immigrants.
The latest visa availability update from the U.S. State Department shows Mexican-born children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents only are being considered for a family-sponsored visa if they applied before 1992.
Some lower-skilled professional and nonskilled work visas for Mexicans are unavailable because of limits.
Other countries, such as the Philippines, have more than a 20-year wait to be considered for limited family-sponsored visas.
Gordon said the lack of comprehensive reform at the federal level has created a vacuum and has pushed states and municipalities to pass short-sighted legislation to deal with "symptoms” of the problem.
He said about 10 other states are considering "copycat” laws similar to Arizona's.
"We aren't going to bus 12 million-plus people over the border,” Gordon said.