Rep. Xavier Becerra. | AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
By Carla Marinucci
12/01/16 – 05:17 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO — With his nomination to become California’s first Latino attorney general, Rep. Xavier Becerra is now primed to be the public face of the Democratic resistance to Donald Trump on issues like climate change, health care and, most visibly, immigration.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s surprise announcement on Thursday that he would nominate Becerra to fill the post has given the longtime congressman a new relevance in his home state, and on the national stage.
Becerra, a son of Mexican immigrants who represented parts of Los Angeles in the House since 1993, is a chair of the House Democratic conference, with a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. But with Democrats unable to make substantial gains in the House, he stood to be mired in the minority for the foreseeable future.
“Xavier Becerra is the luckiest man in Washington right now,’’ said Bill Whalen, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and former adviser to Gov. Pete Wilson.
California officials have already signaled their intention to resist any efforts by Trump — who has called global warming a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese — to roll back the state’s progressive climate-change policies. And efforts are underway to expand the state’s “sanctuary” protections for undocumented immigrants to include college campuses in the state system. California counts dozens of such cities and counties within its borders, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, the nation’s first sanctuary city.
Trump has pledged to block funding for any cities that do not share information with federal immigration authorities.
“We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths,” he said at a rally in Phoenix in September.
“If Donald Trump is serious about combating sanctuary cities in California, then California is going to be one nation-state of lawsuits for the next four years,’’ said Whalen, who called it Becerra’s “primary mission for the next several years” to fight Trump on immigration.
Becerra will be taking on a mirror-image version of the role that catapulted current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to conservative stardom.
As the attorney general of the nation’s biggest red state during Barack Obama’s presidency, Abbott filed more than two dozen lawsuits against the federal government, especially the Environmental Protection Agency. Texas was also party to the multi-state lawsuits against Obamacare.
Those efforts turned Abbott into a hero on the right — and propelled him to the Republican nomination for governor practically unopposed in 2014. “Barack Obama may have won this last election, but we cannot let him or his ideology win the future of this country,” Abbott said at a FreedomWorks event in 2013, before launching into some of his legal history with the administration.
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