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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in his Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address, on Tuesday slammed President Donald Trump’s “obsession” with building a border wall and threatened legal action if he used disaster money to try to pay for it.
“Who would believe that the state of our union would be driven by President Trump’s obsession to build a wall that no experts want?” Becerra said, noting that Trump in his address did not repeat his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall.
"How can it be that the state of our young, rich and strong nation is now disorder, tension, hostility?" he added.
Becerra has used his position to take legal action against several of the president’s policies, including defending the Affordable Care Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to stay in the country and work.
In his speech the president took a tough tone on immigration and boasted that although others had failed to get a border wall constructed, “I will get it built.”
Trump has considered diverting money designated for Puerto Rico and other disaster aid to pay for the wall, but Becerra promised he’d take him to court to stop him.
“We are prepared to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it hits the ground,” Becerra said.
Becerra said that the partial government shutdown was on Trump’s hands and that a second shutdown later this month would define his tenure in office so far.
Thousands of federal workers and contractors went a month without pay as Trump demanded $5.7 billion in funding for the border wall, a request Congress rejected. As a congressional panel tries to hammer out a budget deal before the latest Feb. 15 deadline, Trump in his speech Tuesday said he still sought “a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier.”
Becerra, California’s first Latino attorney general, told viewers they could topple the wall and other “walls” that he said Trump has built, including walls between parents and children who had been separated by the president’s immigration policies.
In fact, Becerra said they had already started toppling them with their November vote that put Democrats in charge of the House.
Becerra told the mostly Latino audience watching on the main Spanish-language networks that their task was to prepare for the next election. He checked off a list of goals he said Latinos could achieve with a strong vote: “Better schools. Check. Health care for your family that politicians can’t take. Check. Wages with benefits and job protections. Check.,” he said.
“Imagine if we would have the power to decide the political agenda of this nation," Becerra said.
Becerra began by telling his personal story of how his parents who emigrated from Mexico and came to the U.S. with “little more than their faith” in a better life.
He said he’s the product of their fight to open the doors of opportunity.
“If the state of our nation can be characterized as strong,” Becerra said, “it is because of people like my parents and yours, citizens or immigrants, built this country .”