I know I am the product of those who fought to open the doors of opportunity. The optimism – that characterizes the waves of immigrants who have come here – runs through my blood. 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.
During 24 years of service as a member of Congress, I learned much about our great country and I worked with three different presidents. And, now, as Attorney General, I defend and advocate for the rights of millions of Americans here in California and, by extension, throughout the United States.
Allow me an obvious observation:
There is no other country like the United States.
The world needs us strong and ready. The world looks to us as a leader and partner.
If America falls, everyone gets hurt.
The state of our union decides destinies.
How can it be, then, that our young, rich, and strong nation finds itself in a state of disorder, stress, hostility?
How can it be that what defines the state of our country in 2019 is the shutdown of the government at the hands of President Trump? And not only once, but perhaps a second time in the coming weeks.
Who would believe that the state of our union would be propelled by President Trump’s extravagant obsession to build a wall on the border that not even the experts want? The President no longer even repeats his promise that Mexico will pay for the thousands of millions of dollars that the wall would cost.
And if all that were not enough to worry us, how can it be explained that our nation lives under an intense investigation about Russian interference in our 2016 presidential elections and the involvement of President Trump?
Criminality, conspiracy, obstruction of justice — all of these dark shadows follow Donald Trump and his Administration.
It shouldn’t surprise us that the majority of people here in the United States think that the country is moving in the wrong direction. And that four out of 10 Americans believe that this is the worst government that they have seen in their life.
Tonight was about convincing us that, from here on out, the deceit and dysfunction would stop and that cooperation would begin. What we heard was the same tired refrain of building walls.
If President Trump wanted to seriously advance comprehensive immigration reform, including border security, Democrats are and have been ready. But closing our government — and leaving hundreds of thousands of workers without work or pay — is not that way to do it.
And the idea of declaring a state of emergency on the border when one doesn’t exist, in order to justify robbing funds that belong to the victims of fires, floods, and hurricanes, to pay for the wall is not only immoral, it is illegal.
We are ready to reject this foolish proposal, in court, the moment it touches the ground.
With your votes last November, you changed the composition of Congress. The votes of congress members the President relied on, he no longer has them. Now, he has to learn to govern in a democracy.
He can no longer ignore the Democrats. That is why he doesn’t have his wall.
Your vote in November changed the votes in Congress. And that has changed the politics of our nation.
Now that you see your power, are you ready to open new doors?
Don’t you think that it is already the time that we in our government build schools, not walls? Then, get those hands ready to vote in the next election!
Our system of government rewards the participation of everyone. And with 66,000 Latino citizens reaching 18 years of age, the voting age, every month, we have many hands to reward.
Two weeks ago, my parents celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. They began their life together with just their faith. They still remember the days when they couldn’t even cross through the doors of restaurants because of signs that said: “No dogs or Mexicans allowed.”
Over the years, they have reaped the fruits of their labor and dedication to their family. There is no doubt that the ‘State of the Union’ of Maria Teresa and Manuel Becerra is strong and resilient.
If you asked my parents what is the state of our Nation, I am sure they would paint an image more real than what President Trump presented. They know what it means to work hard and to respect the rules.
And they know well that to stay strong as a united people, we have to work together and push those heavy doors open so that all our children – like the students from CK McClatchy – can walk through them, and have an opportunity.
Whether it’s with marches on the streets or marches to the polling booths, with fights in the court or through Congress, we will do what’s needed to ensure a strong and vibrant national Union.
Friends, with faith and the strength of our labor, and respecting the diverse contributions of the American people, the United States will continue to be the home of the American Dream.
Becerra is the 33rd Attorney General of the State of California, and is the first Latino to hold the office. This is his response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address.