(CN) – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said during the Democrats’ Spanish language response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union that his office is prepared to take legal action if the president declares a national emergency over border wall funding.
Becerra, the Golden State’s top lawyer and first elected Latino attorney general, said the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency – which he said would steal disaster relief funds from those truly in need – is not only immoral but also illegal.
“We are ready to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it touches ground,” said Becerra, adding that Trump’s pursuit of border wall funding is an “extravagant obsession.”
During his address, Trump called for political unity in the country but was also unapologetic about his request for $5.7 billion to expand a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which if unmet, could lead to another shutdown of the federal government on Feb. 15.
Trump pushed Congress to pass tougher immigration restrictions and called the southern border with Mexico “dangerous.”
Becerra, who gave his rebuttal at his alma mater, C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento, blasted Trump for fomenting divisive politics and putting up walls between voters and voting booths; walls between migrant children and their parents; and borders between Americans and their medical services.
“To stay strong as a united people, we have to work together and push those heavy doors open so that all our children can walk through them, and have opportunities,” Becerra said.
After serving more than 24 years in Congress, Becerra was tapped by former Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the attorney general post vacated by Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.
Since then, Becerra, 61, has been on the frontline of the legal battle against Trump, filing at least 45 lawsuits directly challenging the current administration’s policies on the environment, health care and education.
A Texas federal judge who invalidated the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act in December 2018 agreed to allow the law to stand while his ruling was appealed by Becerra’s office.
The appeal, joined by 15 other states, restored health coverage for millions of Americans.
In a separate lawsuit, Becerra secured an injunction temporarily blocking the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would allow employers to opt out of covering birth control on religious and moral grounds.
Becerra has also defended the state’s so-called sanctuary laws that limit local police collaboration with federal immigration agents, which Trump responded to in protest by threatening to pull all federal immigration agents out of California.
The state is home to 10 million immigrant residents, according to the Pew Research Center.
Becerra, who was born in Sacramento to immigrant parents from Mexico, said during his rebuttal that immigrants are vital members of their communities.
“The optimism that characterizes the waves of immigrants who have come here runs through my blood,” Becerra said. “And if the state of our nation can be characterized as strong, it is because people like my parents and yours – citizens or immigrants – built this country.”
The sentiment was shared by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said on his first day in office that he would bring the state closer to health care for all by expanding Medi-Cal coverage to all eligible undocumented young adults.
Fresh off a victory in the November election, in which he was backed by nearly two-thirds of California voters, Becerra called on Americans to push forward a progressive political agenda that includes laws to protect the environment and protect undocumented Americans.
“We can knock down walls and build doors with our hands,” Becerra said. “We have to fight for our agenda.”