The White House is using California Attorney General Kamala Harris to sell Barack Obama’s executive amnesty policy, in the process boosting its likely choice for the open U.S. Senate seat over former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the city’s first Latino mayor and Harris’s most feared potential rival.
Harris spoke during a phone conference on Monday, led by White House adviser Cecilia Muñoz and sponsored by the White House, in which she boasted that Obama’s actions regarding immigration would hand California’s economy “by anywhere from $11.7 billion to $27.5 billion over the next decade,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The White House played dumb about the choice of Harris; White House spokesman Eric Schultz only said, “We’re not going to have anything to say on the politics here,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
On Monday, Muñoz boasted of Obama’s expanded deferred action program, which would authorize a non–U.S. citizen to remain in the U.S. temporarily and also apply for a work permit, pointing out that the White House Council of Economic Advisors said that all the changes Obama announced in November would add $90 billion to the nation’s GDP by 2025. Many opponents of Obama’s plans have stated their belief that Obama’s changes could incur higher costs from illegal immigrants seeking public services.
Harris lit into Republicans who not only have blocked some of Obama’s new policies, but who have also revived the Secure Communities program, shelved by Obama, which focused on allowing local law enforcement to help deport undocumented immigrants. She claimed the GOP should “stop playing politics with our national security” and pass a comprehensive bill on immigration reform. She added that Secure Communities should be eliminated in favor of centering on terrorism, hard-core gangs and felons, “rather than apprehending and removing immigrants who have no criminal background.”
Harris was an early backer of Obama, having raised money for his Senate race in 2004 and endorsed him in 2008. Villaraigosa backed Hillary Clinton, who traded on his background to appeal to the Latino community, calling herself the “daughter of immigrants.”
Harris noted in the phone conference that one out of every two Californians “is an immigrant or has a parent who is an immigrant,” and added that she has “fought to ensure that both documented and undocumented immigrants have access to all the rights of this great nation.” She mentioned her friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing against Arizona’s illegal immigration legislation in 2012.
The White House’s apparent backing of Harris could pay great dividends for her fund-raising. President Barack Obama has cultivated a chummy relationship with Silicon Valley, and although Harris has sometimes crossed swords with that area’s moguls, the White House could swing them to her.
Politico reports that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the political action committees of Google, Facebook and Intel gave donations to Harris’ campaign for the Attorney General slot. Other supporters of Harris have included Tony Fadell, co-founder of smart thermostat maker Nest; Jony Ive from Apple; Napster co-founder Sean Parker; and Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb.