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State government

Becerra and 19 other attorneys general pen letter to President Trump urging him to defend DACA

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, left, and Rep. Jimmy Gomez speak about immigration at Cal State L.A. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, left, and Rep. Jimmy Gomez speak about immigration at Cal State L.A. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra and 19 of his counterparts from across the country sent President Trump a letter Friday urging his administration not to touch an Obama-era policy that shields as many as 750,000 young immigrants from deportation.  

The letter comes a month after Texas and nine other states threatened to sue the Trump administration if President Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was not scrapped. 

"We urge you to affirm America’s values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it," the attorneys general wrote. "The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people."

Becerra was met with cheers at Cal State L.A. when he told a crowd of students — including some DACA recipients — that he thought the program would survive legal challenges it could face in the future.

"It has been a great boon for the California and American economy to have the 'Dreamers' come out of the shadows, and so we are here to say we stand with them because they are working for us," he said. 

Becerra's statements come after Trump and his administration have sent mixed messages about the future of the program, leaving many on both sides of the immigration debate frustrated.

The president has said DACA is "one of the most difficult subjects" he faces because there are "incredible kids.”

Becerra, a former congressman who was appointed California's top law enforcement official after Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate, was joined by his newly elected successor Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles). 

Gomez, just two weeks into his new job, told the group of students Friday that he was looking into using his position on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to call for hearings on the Department of Homeland Security's enforcement actions. 

"Are they really going after DACA recipients and 'Dreamers'? We are going to try and put them on the witness stand and really push on that," he said.  

"A lot of times the Trump administration says one thing and then they do something else over here so we have to show people what they are actually doing over here," Gomez added. "So that is an idea we are kicking around in my office."

Melody Klingenfuss, an organizer with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles who came to the U.S. from Guatemala at age 9, is among the DACA recipients. 

She was pleased Becerra took a stance Friday.

"Having a public face to defend 'Dreamers' and who believes in the contributions we have made to this country is key," she said. "We still have a long fight ahead of us."

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