News that the Commerce Department will include a question regarding citizenship in the 2020 U.S. Census has one man ready to fight. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says his state will sue to keep the question off the census, saying it's actually unlawful.
"We're prepared to do what we must to protect California from a deficient census," Becerra said in a statement late Monday night. "Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea — it is illegal."
This is just the latest instance of Becerra and the state of California working to halt the Trump agenda. The attorney general was elected to the position in 2016 and took office in January 2017. He's the first Latino to hold the office. He went to law school at Stanford and once worked as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice
His predecessor, Kamala Harris, did not run for reelection; she ran successfully for the U.S. Senate. In fact, he and Harris nearly switched places. Becerra, before starting work as California's attorney general, served in Congress as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 terms. So he's no stranger to how things work in the nation's capital.
That could play a role in why he's so committed to stopping the Trump agenda in his state. Becerra sees the 2020 Census as a way to minimize California's representation and that of Latino and Asian minorities. He wrote an op-ed in The San Francisco Chronicle with Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, about the dangers. They wrote:
California, with its large immigrant communities, would be disproportionately harmed by depressed participation in the 2020 census. An undercount would threaten at least one of California’s seats in the House of Representatives (and, by extension, an elector in the electoral college.) It would deprive California and its cities and counties of their fair share of billions of dollars in federal funds.
They point to what could be affected if California is underfunded due to the Census. "The size of your child’s kindergarten class. Homeland security funds for your community. Natural disaster preparation. Highway and mass transit resources. Health care and emergency room services," comprises the short list Becerra and Padilla warn about.
He also points this newest policy change as the latest in a long attack on minorities. "Since the first day of his presidential campaign and through his first year in office, President Trump has targeted immigrants: vilifying them and attempting to exclude them from the country," the two write.
Many of those policies Becerra has challenged in court. As of March 14, Becerra had filed 28 lawsuits against the Trump administration, The Washington Post reported. This included things like the travel ban, the border wall, the ending of DACA, and more. Becerra's lawsuits have put much of that on hold.
Becerra has even engaged in Trump's favorite pastime, challenging others on Twitter. He wrote in advance of Trump's visit to California, tagging the president. "@realdonaldtrump, only took ~30 lawsuits to visit world’s 6th largest economy? Not looking to pick fight but if CA values threatened, ready," Becerra tweeted.
The Trump administration has also fought back. The Justice Department sued the state of California for three laws that counter the federal government's tough stance to deport undocumented immigrants. Currently Becerra is working to have the case moved to the federal courts in San Francisco. There's already related cases being heard there.
Regardless of the outcome of the Census case or others, Becerra will keep on pushing for the rights of Californians and the best interest of the state.