With so many priorities in Washington D.C. right now, the mayor said he doesn't want this issue to fall off the radar screen.
Villaraigosa spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and called repairing the nation's broken immigration system an economic imperative. He wants a pathway to citizenship as the core of any reforms.
"No human being is illegal. No human being should be illegal. We must enshrine this principle into the heart and soul of this country's immigration policy. That is our moral imperative," said Villaraigosa.
There are those who think the mayor is wrong to suggest what they feel approaches amnesty. Ira Mehlman, media director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, released a statement saying, "The mayor's statement implies that the American people somehow owe something to the people who have broken our laws. Illegal immigrants do not deserve a handshake from the American people. It is the American people who deserve the full protection of their federal and local governments against the negative effects of illegal immigration."
Villaraigosa thinks it's a question of American principals. He said legalization must be earned, but not unobtainable, and it should be a process, not a punishment.
"Immigrants must take personal responsibility for their actions. But as they do, we must provide them a meaningful path forward to become full members of American society," said Villaraigosa.
Villaraigosa is in his last months in office and there's a lot of speculation he could run for governor or take a job with the Obama administration in The Cabinet.