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For California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Resistance Is Personal

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When President Donald Trump calls for a border wall or threatens to deport younger unauthorized immigrants, one of many loudest opposition voices comes from the son of Mexican immigrants — who additionally occurs to be California’s prime lawyer.

Democrat Xavier Becerra, the state’s first Latino legal professional normal, shouldn’t be solely certainly one of Trump’s greatest critics, he’s an unrelenting adversary in court docket, placing at Republican efforts to overturn federal guidelines not simply on immigration, however on well being care, contraception, local weather change and extra.

On Tuesday, Becerra, 61, will take the nationwide stage when he offers the Spanish-language rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union tackle. He has challenged the Trump agenda earlier than.

Becerra has taken the Trump administration to court docket 45 instances since former Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the job in 2017. In November, voters overwhelmingly gave him a four-year time period, validating his resolution to go away Congress after 24 years.

Becerra, whose spouse is a physician, is main a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia in defending the Affordable Care Act towards a Texas lawsuit that would decide the fate of the law — and with it, well being protection for tens of millions of Americans. And he gained a nationwide court docket injunction final yr that blocked the Trump administration’s resolution to finish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which permits certified younger individuals who had been introduced into the U.S. illegally as youngsters to acquire momentary work permits.

When information reviews final month revealed that Trump was contemplating diverting emergency catastrophe reduction funds from California, Florida and Texas through the partial federal authorities shutdown, Becerra condemned the president on Twitter for poaching funds for a “reckless & lawless” border wall.

The fights are ones that Becerra describes as private. He talked to California Healthline’s Samantha Young about his function — and the way his upbringing influences his authorized choices.

The following interview has been edited for size and readability.

Q: You had been a veteran member of Congress in a management function. Why did you are taking this job?

November 2016 hits. We have the election. All the issues that I cared about had been going to be positioned in jeopardy by this new president.

I discovered myself pondering I in all probability might make an even bigger distinction because the legal professional normal for your complete state of California, defending every part I fought to erect, than as a minority member within the House of Representatives making an attempt to make my level, however all the time dropping.

I made a calculation. I believe I made the proper alternative.

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Q: You have sued the Trump administration 45 instances on training, immigration, well being care, contraception entry, local weather change and extra. What’s the one case you actually needed to win?

I’ll provide you with two.

First, the Affordable Care Act, realizing how a lot it has been a sport changer for households. I might by no means have believed that I’d be main the trouble to guard your complete Affordable Care Act as an legal professional normal for certainly one of 50 states. But right here I’m.

The second one is the DACA litigation, as a result of because the son of immigrants, I watched my mother and father wrestle and noticed the issues they needed to stay by way of. I consider these DACA recipients are going to be a few of the biggest leaders America has and it’s as a result of they needed to undergo a lot like my mother and father did. So, it’s very private.

Q: Do you bear in mind your mother and father’ financial struggles as a toddler?

I believed I used to be center class rising up as a child. It actually wasn’t till I used to be driving with my mother to begin my first day at Stanford University, driving by way of Palo Alto, that I noticed I’m not center class.

We all the time had respectable meals to eat. I by no means bought a pair of Converse. I by no means had a pair of Levi’s denims. Never had that sort of stuff, however I all the time had garments. It didn’t daybreak on me that we had been a lot completely different than people.

Q: How does your upbringing affect your choices as legal professional normal?

Everything I do is knowledgeable by what I grew up with. I defend immigrants with a ardour as a result of I noticed immigrants daily of my life. And I understand how arduous they work. I by no means noticed a day the place my dad didn’t work.

My mother got here right here when she was 18 from Guadalajara, when she married my dad. Didn’t know English. Learned it. She might all the time discover a job, and when she discovered English it turned simpler. But she might by no means go very excessive as a result of she by no means went to school.

So, when somebody needs to knock an immigrant, you’re knocking my dad and my mother.

Q: You consider everybody ought to have entry to well being care. Was there ever a interval in your life once you didn’t have medical health insurance?

I don’t ever recall a time once I didn’t. That’s why I’m such an enormous defender of unions. My dad was a building employee. My dad bought to the sixth grade. As tough as it’s for somebody with a sixth-grade training to get an honest job, and whereas being a guide laborer and dealing building doesn’t make you a millionaire, in case you work for a union it will get you fundamental advantages.

I knew what it meant to have medical health insurance, particularly on the day my mother ended up having a miscarriage. She was hemorrhaging at dwelling and she or he needed to be rushed to the hospital. There was no hesitation.

We knew we might go to the physician — and all people ought to know that. For me, well being care is a proper. I’ve been a single-payer advocate all my life.

Q: Why do you assume it’s vital to construct coalitions with different states when difficult the Trump administration?

Lifting one thing by your self may be very tough. When you get a staff to do it, it simply clicks a lot simpler. Maybe it’s as a result of I went by way of Congress extra years within the minority than the bulk, the place you understand what it takes to truly cobble collectively a coalition to get one thing achieved. Or, possibly it’s simply that once you’ve been in a minority all of your life, the son of immigrants with little or no, you realize it takes a staff effort.

I bought by way of Stanford realizing my household didn’t have some huge cash, so I needed to work, take out scholar loans and obtain assist from the federal government. It was a mixture of numerous issues.

Q: What’s your response to critics who say state attorneys normal are “militarizing” their workplace to overturn insurance policies your celebration can’t block in Congress?

Which of the instances ought to we not have filed? The one to defend the Affordable Care Act, or the one to forestall girls from dropping entry to contraception, or is it the one to permit DACA Dreamers to be deported, or is it the one to ensure that we’re defending towards a loopy border wall, or is it the one that ought to enable predatory for-profit faculties to proceed to keep away from having to offer reduction to college students who had been defrauded?

We’re not doing this as a result of we’re making an attempt to assault the federal authorities or as a result of we’ve bought it out for this explicit president. How would we clarify to the individuals who would have been unprotected why we simply watched, why we simply spectated?

Use Our Content This story may be republished totally free (details).

This KHN story first printed on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Samantha Young: syoung@kff.org”>syoung@kff.org, @youngsamantha

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