President Donald Trump, whose domestic travels have focused on deep-red areas of support and his own resorts, is gearing up for his first presidential visit to California, the front lines of the anti-Trump resistance.
Trump, the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to skip a visit to America’s most populous state during his first year in office, will spend Tuesday touring prototypes of his proposed border wall in San Diego and attending a Republican fundraiser in Beverly Hills, according to an invitation to the events obtained by The Los Angeles Times.
Trump’s fraught relationship with California, where he has some of his lowest approval ratings, is sure to cast a shadow on the visit. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said this week he considers the state at war with Trump’s government, and has fiercely denounced the president on climate change, marijuana policy, offshore drilling and, lately, immigration.
Trump’s administration on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against California over its so-called sanctuary laws meant to protect undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary laws, which limit local police cooperating with federal immigration authorities, allow police to work better with immigrant communities, and to dedicate their time and resources to law enforcement priorities aside from immigration, California says.
This is basically going to war against the state of California. California Gov. Jerry Brown
Trump’s administration argues California’s laws violate the Constitution and federal law.
“The Department of Justice and the Trump administration are going to fight these unjust, unfair and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officers on Wednesday. “We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. And I believe that we are going to win.”
Responded Brown: “This is basically going to war against the state of California.”
Sessions took a swipe at California and other states with relaxed marijuana policies back in January. Shortly after recreational marijuana became legal in the state that month, the attorney general rescinded three Obama-era memos that effectively discouraged federal prosecution of marijuana growers and sellers who were following state laws, even though they violated federal policy against marijuana.
The Trump administration also is battling California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) over Trump’s decision to end insurance coverage requirements for birth control.
Becerra sued the administration in October, arguing that the rollback violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by allowing employers to use their religious beliefs to deny women a health care benefit. Several other states joined the lawsuit or filed similar ones of their own.
The state has also gone up against Trump on environmental issues. Last month, the California State Lands Commission put a massive roadblock in Trump’s plan to open the Pacific coast to new oil and gas drilling. The commission, which controls the state’s entire coastline, said it will not not issue the pipeline permits drillers would need.
Trump, however, can claim at least one victory against the state on conservation issues. Last month, a judge ruled in favor of Trump in a lawsuit California filed to stop construction of the border wall on the grounds that it violated environmental laws.
Though Trump’s California visit appears aimed at promoting his border wall plan, Congress has not authorized funding for the project. The Senate rejected four immigration bills last month that would earmarked as much as $25 billion federal dollars for the controversial project.