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Xavier Becerra takes oath of office, is first Latino to become California attorney general

Xavier Becerra (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Xavier Becerra (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Minutes after resigning his seat in Congress on Tuesday, Xavier Becerra took the oath of office as California’s new attorney general, and he immediately made plans for a sit-down with sheriffs from throughout the state to talk about law enforcement issues.

Becerra, 58, was given the oath of office at the Capitol by Gov. Jerry Brown, who predicted earlier that “Xavier will be a champion for all Californians.” The ceremony was held before Brown was scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address, and a day after Becerra received final confirmation by the state Senate.

“I will do my utmost to uphold your faith in me to serve as our great state’s next chief law enforcement officer and legal advocate,” Becerra said in a letter to Brown on Tuesday, letting him know he had resigned from Congress.

“And while I leave Congress with mixed emotions, I am ready to begin my work as Attorney General. California’s hard-working families are counting on us, and we won’t let them down,” Becerra said.

Becerra was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife, physician Carolina Reyes, two of his three daughters, and his parents, both immigrants from Mexico.

Brown appointed Becerra to fill a vacancy after former Atty. Gen.l Kamala Harris won election to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Becerra has pledged to challenge any attempts by the new administration of President Trump to roll back state policies on immigration, civil rights and the environment.

Brown noted his appointee's background during his speech.

"Like so many others, he is the son of immigrants who saw California as a place where, through grit and determination, they could realize their dreams," Brown said. "And they are not alone, millions of Californians have come here from Mexico and a hundred other countries, making our state what it is today: vibrant, even turbulent, and a beacon of hope to the rest of the world."

The first Latino to become state attorney general in California spent the last two weeks meeting with dozens of legislators as he went through confirmation hearings in both houses.

“Governor Brown and state legislators have already shared valuable ideas on our path forward,” Becerra said in a statement after his confirmation. “And next week I hope to sit down with sheriffs from across our state to begin our work together keeping our families safe and enforcing our laws fairly."

The first focus on local law enforcement was welcomed by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs' Assn.

“He wants to start with law enforcement in the San Joaquin Valley, and I think that’s a really positive step,” Youngblood said. “I’m impressed with his credentials. I’m impressed with his background, and I think he’s going to be a good attorney general.”

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