If confirmed as state attorney general, Xavier Becerra could lead California in fights against the incoming Trump administration on stop-and-frisk policing, a national registry of Muslims and rolling back regulation of carbon emissions.
The Democratic congressman from Los Angeles highlighted those as proposed policies of President-elect Donald Trump with which he vehemently disagrees in his first public position statement since being tapped for the job: a letter to members of the special Assembly committee that will hold a confirmation hearing for Becerra on Tuesday.
Becerra, who was formally nominated to be California’s top law enforcement official last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, is expected by many to act as a bulwark against Trump for the interests of a state that voted against the president-elect by a huge margin. He would replace Democrat Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November.
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The letter to the Assembly committee, which asked Becerra to address five policy areas, including immigration, civil rights, environmental protection, police accountability and consumer protection, is short on specific proposals. It also does not illuminate Becerra’s thoughts on several key state issues that he would take on, such as efforts to resume executions after more than a decade.
But Becerra did make clear that there are potential legal challenges he is already expecting to bring against the federal government in the coming years.
“I have heard the President-elect’s statements in support of so-called stop-and-frisk policies,” he wrote. “I have no intention of allowing this policy through the doors of California.”
Becerra criticized the program, which allows officers to stop someone they believe has committed or will commit a crime and search them, as disproportionately targeted at minority communities and corrosive to public trust in law enforcement.
“If an attempt is made to do so, or if a threat of withholding federal funding to force such a change, I would treat this as a serious federal overreach into local law enforcement powers,” he wrote, and “fight vigorously to defeat such a policy.”
Becerra also sharply criticized Trump’s suggestions of establishing a registry of all Muslim Americans and temporarily banning Muslim immigrants to the United States as “disturbing” and “based on gross stereotypes.”
“Any such policies would be antithetical to the deepest constitutional values and traditions of this nation – a nation founded in part by men and women fleeing religious persecution,” he wrote.
Brown has made clear that one of his priorities is defending California’s role as a leader on climate change against the skeptic Trump, and Becerra would play a key role in that.
“I also intend to pursue actions in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” Becerra wrote in his letter. “As Attorney General I will continue to be a strong voice in actions to support climate change efforts at a national level.”
Among the other positions Becerra mentioned were protecting California’s extensive laws to integrate undocumented immigrants into society, upholding access to abortion and contraceptives, defending the state’s strict gun regulations and providing safe drinking water to all Californians.