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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Discusses Priorities, DACA Program

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in an undated photo.

Credit: House Democratic Caucus

Above: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in an undated photo.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Discusses Priorities, DACA Program


Xavier Becerra, attorney general, California


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke to San Diego business leaders Monday as part of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's "Good Government" speaker series.

Becerra has taken on the role of defending many of California's government policies against Trump administration reforms on issues like immigration, health care and the environment.

The attorney general spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Tuesday about his speech in San Diego and a wide range of other topics, including how he plans to help children who were brought to the U.S. illegally, an officer-involved shooting bill making it’s way through the legislature and the status of an investigation into the handling of the San Onofre settlement.

Q: What were some of the regional issues discussed at the regional chamber of commerce meeting?

A: Much of the discussion centered around how we could make sure that we could continue to move forward creating the jobs, keeping businesses here, creating a climate that is good for everyone. In San Diego, what we’ve seen is there’s a continued growth in the economic sector. But what we’re also seeing is that there is this concern that the political climate in Washington D.C. may impact California’s success with its economy.

Q: Did you get any questions about San Onofre? Because who pays for the failure of the nuclear power plant and where the nuclear waste is stored are very big issues here.

A: I’ve been asked about the situation with San Onofre, and I’ve had to refrain from making comment because right now the Department of Justice represents the Coastal Commission and therefore since the Coastal Commission is part of this negotiation I’m restricted in what I could say about the nuclear waste and what will be done with it.

Q: Your office is involved into at least one investigation into the handling of the San Onofre settlement, is that right?

A: We don’t comment on any possible investigation, whether there is one or what the results might be.

Q: You recently reaffirmed your support for the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program or DACA. Even though, its status under the Trump administration remains unclear. What can you, as a state attorney general, do to protect this program?

A: We continue to protect families in California who are working hard and producing great results for our state. We can’t do anything directly in regard to the immigration status and what the federal government decides to do with the DACA program, but we can make sure while they are under the DACA program that we do everything we can to make sure that they are treated the way that we would want to be treated as Californians.

Q: The issue of accountability over police shootings has been important in San Diego, as it is around the state. Assembly Bill 284 would fund a study conducted by your office into police shootings in the state and originally it would have have allowed your office to criminally investigate officer-involved shootings. But now you say that is a job that should be left up to local law enforcement. Why do you feel that's important?

A: There will be cases where the investigation should be done by an entity other than the local law enforcement authorities. I have the authority to do those investigations right now. I do believe the closer to the location to the home to the venue where the incident occurs the better everyone is because it’s sure tougher for someone in San Diego to believe they are going to have to travel everyday to Sacramento to seek justice from the attorney general. The legislation, as it stands, would make sure that the attorney general to take a close examination of the last two years of police shootings. And hopefully, what we’ll glean is the fact of where we go to get to the root cause of this and do things the right way.

Q: From the time you took office, you have been gearing up to defend California from Trump administration policies that you believe threaten immigrants, our health care system, our fair share of federal funding, and so on. You've opened an office in DC, hired more attorneys. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing California in terms of Trump administration policies?

A: I think the most contentious part about the dealings with Washington D.C. will be trying to figure out where exactly the Trump administration is really going to go. Because he says one thing one moment, another thing another moment. Rather than worry about Washington D.C. I’m going to make sure California can continue to lean forward and I’ve got the state’s back.

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