Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who was nominated Thursday to be California’s new attorney general, issued a forceful challenge to President-elect Donald Trump over his pledge to enforce federal immigration law: “Come at us.”
Becerra, who has yet to be confirmed by the state legislature, and whose membership in the State Bar has been inactive for more than two decades, did his best impression of segregationist Democrat George Wallace in defying federal authority.
Claiming to “know the true value of diversity,” Becerra told reporters on a conference call, as quoted by The Recorder: “If you want to take on a forward-leaning state that is prepared to defend its rights and interests, come at us.”
California Democrats are enthusiastic about Becerra, who will be the state’s first Latino attorney general, and will replace Kamala Harris, who was just elected to the U.S. Senate to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Becerra is also the outgoing chair of the House Democratic Caucus and the highest-ranking Latino in the House of Representatives. He is a passionate, and highly partisan, advocate for Democratic Party policies — including, lately, amnesty for illegal aliens.
President-elect Trump has promised to enforce federal immigration law, and to end the practice of “sanctuary cities” — of which California has several — in which local law enforcement refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials without a warrant or court order. The policy has resulted in illegal aliens, including violent felons and repeat deportees, remaining in the United States. Big-city Democrat mayors across the state and throughout the country have vowed, Wallace-style, to resist.
However, there is no legal basis for sanctuary cities. Ironically, a 2012 Supreme Court decision striking down Arizona’s aggressive SB 1070 immigration law provides the basis for their undoing, ruling that immigration law is an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction. The same principle would likely be applied by the Trump administration against a “rebel California.”
Aside from the courts, as Breitbart News’ Chriss Street has pointed out, a Trump administration could also exert leverage by withholding federal funds from California. The state is uniquely vulnerable, given its dependence on federal expenditures.
Nevertheless, Becerra and his Democrats are spoiling for a fight. And Donald Trump seems inclined to give it to them.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.