Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, was an obvious choice to deliver the Democratic Party’s Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address. He’s the child of Mexican immigrants and represented a heavily Latino district in Los Angeles during his 24 years in Congress.
As attorney general of the most populous state in the country, Becerra has also sued the Trump administration 45 times to block some of its biggest moves on healthcare, the environment, and, most importantly, immigration.
Trump’s address — in spite of its gestures toward reconciliation — repeated the same message on immigration he’s been delivering since his campaign. That set Becerra up to draw a sharp contrast between Trump and the Democrats for the potential Latino voters watching live on Telemundo and Univision.
“Tonight was supposed to be about convincing us that, from here on out, the deceit and dysfunction would stop and that cooperation would begin,” Becerra said in his speech. “What we heard was the same tired refrain of building walls.”
But distinguishing the Democratic Party from Trump “isn’t tough,” as Becerra told VICE News. Much harder is reconciling the profound divisions that exist on immigration within the Democratic Party — between a newly ascendant left wing that’s turned “Abolish ICE” into a slogan and an establishment that has for decades played an active role in dramatically expanding the immigration enforcement system.
This segment originally aired February 6, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.