Gov. Jerry Brown, in Washington, hits Republicans on immigration

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters outside the White House on Friday.
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters outside the White House on Friday.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that Republican opposition to President Obama’s immigration actions “at best is troglodyte and at worst is un-Christian,” and asserted that the GOP has adopted a shameful stance that will backfire on its candidates.

“They’re declaring war with millions of people, not just those who are undocumented, but those who sympathize with them,” Brown said of Republicans who are fighting Obama’s plan to grant a three-year protection from deportation to up to 5 million people living in the United States illegally.

California was among 14 states, mostly led by Democratic governors, that signed on with the Obama administration’s legal defense on Thursday, arguing in a court brief that killing the plan would deprive the states of tax revenue and stronger family units. A federal judge in Texas has halted the program temporarily while a lawsuit filed by 26 other states proceeds.

Brown met with administration officials -- including Sylvia Burwell, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services -- to discuss water issues, immigration, healthcare and climate change. But he did not see the president, who was visiting a Veterans Affairs hospital in Arizona while Brown was in Washington.


The two men will probably see each other Saturday night at the Gridiron Club dinner, an annual Washington tradition at which Brown will be a guest of the Washington Post and Obama is scheduled to speak.

The California governor, a three-time contestant for the White House, also waded into the 2016 presidential campaign, specifically playing down the impact of the controversy over Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of private emails during her tenure as Obama’s first secretary of State. Brown, who has had a fraught relationship with Clinton and her husband over the years, suggested that the tempest would likely pass.

Clinton announced during a New York news conference this week that she had deleted more than 30,000 emails from her personal server before passing tens of thousands more messages on to the State Department. She decided which of the emails were personal and which were work-related, a judgment that has already spawned calls for investigations from Republicans in Congress.

“Whatever needs to be brought out can be brought out,” Brown said.

He said that in California, “we do eliminate emails on a regular basis because we just don’t want to drown in our own verbiage.” And he argued against retaining the “voluminous records that are already weighing down Washington.”

“Lean and mean, as far as emails,” he said.

Brown, now 76, seemed to relish holding court with the national media outside the West Wing. But if the setting was tempting him into another run for the presidency, he did not say so. He said Clinton would “certainly not” benefit from a Democratic primary if she runs for president as the expected favorite.

“I can’t think of anything I’d rather have less, were I to be running for president, than having a competitor in the primary,” he said.


Brown, of course, ran an extended primary campaign against Bill Clinton in 1992, continuing in the race long after Clinton had effectively cinched the primary. But he made the case Friday that, in the 2016 race, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party would be better served by drawing distinctions with “all those Republicans, these wannabes” who are “fighting the millions of immigrants, mostly Mexican American and Latino background” on immigration, healthcare and climate change.

“There’s some big differences and they’re more with the Republicans,” he said.

Twitter: @noahbierman