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California attorney general nominee Xavier Becerra jabs Trump for proposing mass deportations, Muslim registry

Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Brown's nominee for state attorney general, at a news conference last month. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), Brown's nominee for state attorney general, at a news conference last month. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Ahead of his first confirmation hearing Tuesday, state attorney general nominee Rep. Xavier Becerra has assured legislators that he will be a strong force to counter the policies of President-elect Donald Trump , including opposing proposals for mass deportations and a registry of Muslim immigrants.

In a letter released Saturday, Becerra defended California's many programs to help immigrants in the country illegally get driver's licenses, college financial aid and legal assistance in fighting deportation orders.

"All of these policies and programs are representative of California's values as a welcoming state," Becerra wrote to members of an Assembly committee set to take up his nomination Tuesday.

Becerra, who is the son of immigrants, said his job will be "to protect and enforce the rights of the people of California, including those rights which were established to help weave California's immigrants into its fabric."

Becerra, a 12-term member of Congress, also took a swipe at Trump for campaign comments that included a proposal to create a registry of Muslim immigrants.

"Disturbing statements uttered during the recent Presidential campaign have given rise to legitimate fears that the new federal administration might seek to adopt policies that would discriminate against people based on factors such as their religious belief," Becerra wrote. "Any such policies would be antithetical to the deepest constitutional values and traditions of this nation — a nation founded in part by men and women fleeing religious persecution."

He noted that a previous registry was shelved because it was not seen to have value.

Becerra also pledged to fight for a woman's right to choose abortion, widespread voter participation in elections and policies to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

The congressman, who was appointed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill a vacancy when Kamala Harris resigned as attorney general to join the U.S. Senate, also promised to address the problems of hate crimes and racial profiling by police.

He noted Trump has spoken positively about New York City's past policy of stopping people on the street to frisk them for weapons.

"Policies that target specific populations for pre-emptive searches based on general suspicion have been shown in New York and elsewhere to, not unexpectedly, disproportionately target minority communities, specifically young men in specific neighborhoods where those policies have been implemented," Becerra said.

He said it could add to the community's mistrust of law enforcement.

"I have no intention of allowing this policy through the doors of California," he wrote.

He said providing police officers with body cameras to record their actions is "a helpful tool" that requires more attention. He also promised to enforce gun laws and seek bail reform.

Citing a recent state audit, Becerra also called for reform of the state Cal-Gang database, which stores the names of suspected gang members.

"I do not believe that we currently have a system that ensures the utility and quality of information for law enforcement purposes," Becerra wrote.

The wide-ranging letter, drafted in response to written questions posed by the Democratic co-chairs of the confirmation committee, also pledges to protect the privacy of Californians and work to battle mortgage fraud.

Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone, co-chairman of the committee, said: "I appreciate the congressman's responses. They provide us with a good starting point for Tuesday's hearing."

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