Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) said on Sunday that an immigration proposal from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would create a "second-class status" of people in the United States.
"I would support the president's version of the DREAM Act," Villaraigosa said, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I think that Sen. Rubio's version of the DREAM Act would create a second-class status for folks."
But Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic convention this summer, added that the country "should engage in a conversation and a debate" about the issue.
The Democratic version of the DREAM Act immigration reform plan would create a path to citizenship for some students who were brought into the country illegally as children. The bill failed to attract enough Republican support to clear the Senate in late 2010.
Rubio’s alternative, which he has yet to formally introduce, would give students legal status through non-immigrant visas, but not citizenship.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that he is doubtful that Congress will take up the issue.
Villaraigosa predicted likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney's position on the DREAM Act will hurt him with Hispanic voters.
"[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 tough immigration measures in the two states.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who also appeared on "Face the Nation," said it will be important for Republicans to reach out to Hispanic voters, but that Hispanics, like many other groups, care most about the economy.
Barbour said he is not familiar with "every detail" of the DREAM Act, but "some of the concepts are clearly attractive."
"The fact that people come and serve in our military certainly ought to give them some status in the United States," said Barbour, who has also served as chairman of the Republican Party. "Whether it's that they have the right to stay and to work as long as they pay taxes, as long as they don't break the law, now maybe there should be a different path to citizenship."