The Trump administration keeps losing in court because “their folks act like Neanderthals,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Saturday in explaining why his office has yet to lose a lawsuit against the president’s efforts to drastically change policies and regulations implemented by the previous administration.
“If they were smarter, they would act smarter,” said Becerra during a half-hour talk and question-and-answer session with the Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee in central Fresno.
His appearance was as a candidate for the office that Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to a year ago, so his comments were not as guarded as they were at a Friday meeting with Fresno County elected officials.
Becerra, however, stressed that his office is limited in what protection it can offer for California residents, especially when it comes to immigration enforcement.
“The state Attorney General does not have any role in enforcing federal immigration. I have no jurisdiction,” he replied to a question about problems caused by the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protective Status for about 200,000 Salvadorans or the lesser-known Deferred Enforced Departure.
“Once TPS is removed, it’s hard to bring it back,” said Becerra, speaking to about 100 people at Club 65 before leaving for a candidate’s forum and an educational fundraiser.
The state Attorney General does not have any role in enforcing federal immigration. I have no jurisdiction.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra
Becerra said his office can step in and fight if “we find there are many constitutional violations.”
Thus far, the California Attorney General’s Office has filed 27 lawsuits against the Trump administration, ranging from the travel ban to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (a federal judge has forced the government has to continue accepting DACA applications) to the border wall over environmental issues.
“We have never lost a case,” he said to cheers.
Becerra gave up his post as the fourth-ranking Democrat in Congress to fill the vacancy left by Sen. Kamala Harris. Doing that, he said, was his response “that what happened in the 2016 elections wasn’t America.”
His office, said Becerra, isn’t looking for a fight with the president unless his administration threatens the state’s 40 million residents.
“I’ve got your back,” he told the progressive club.
During a quick question-and-answer session, Becerra:
▪ Took a folder of information regarding a complaint about excessive Fresno police shootings and said he “will look it over.” The department does not comment on ongoing investigations, he noted.
▪ Said his department can only check to see if city ordinances to battle homelessness violate federal or state statutes. “If we’re alerted on time, we can see if they’re acting negligently in implementing regulations that threaten public safety.”
▪ Expressed support for the Affordable Care Act, and called health care “a public utility.” It is “no different than education or electricity,” he said. In the end, the country must move to a single-payer system, he said. “These are rights we should all have,” he added.
A day earlier, at a meeting organized by Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, Becerra answered questions that centered on the current federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants and public safety.
Becerra said his department works closely with federal immigration officials to battle drug and human trafficking, and consumer protection.
“The reality is that we are working day to day with the federal government,” said Becerra. “Most of my work has little to do with Washington, D.C.”
However, he noted, the department will step up “if someone wants to get in the way, stop us from moving forward.”
Becerra said his department “has a strong case” to keep DACA alive in the courts. “The repeal, the way they did it by resolution was against the law,” he said.
Becerra met with local growers and packing house owners who have expressed concern over federal immigration checks on their employees.
“State law prescribes what information (employers) can give out, and how it interplays with federal law,” said Becerra. “They need to know what their responsibility is to their employees.”
The Immigrant Workers Protection Act, which went into effect this year, requires employers to ask immigration agents for a warrant before providing them access to a worksite.
“I want to make sure employers understand what their rights are but also what their responsibilities are toward their employees,” said Becerra. “Certainly ICE (Immigration and Custom Enforcement) has the authority to enforce immigration law, but they must do their work legally.”
Fowler City Councilmember Daniel Parra said ICE agents had visited a packinghouse last Monday and left, leaving workers think it was safe to go back on Tuesday. ICE agents, said Parra, showed up on Tuesday.
That has frightened many workers from returning to work, said Parra.
Orange Cove Mayor Víctor López complained that the anti-immigration rhetoric is painting immigrants as “drug pushers, thieves.”
“Why can’t we talk about all the positive things?” he asked. “My dad came over from México and never asked for a damn penny. This country was built by immigrants. We are very proud.”
See full story: www.vidaenelvalle.com