(Bloomberg) -- Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom leapt into the immigration debate, slamming Florida’s Republican governor for shipping migrants to liberal enclaves, backing President Joe Biden’s immigration plan, and praising conservative hero Ronald Reagan for trying to tackle the issue decades ago.
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“I can not stand Ron DeSantis and these folks that are using these human beings, children, as political pawns,” Newsom said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s David Westin on Wednesday. “It’s disgusting. The cruelty of that is self-evident to any person that truly cares and has compassion.”
The White House has slammed efforts by Republican governors like Florida’s DeSantis and Texas’s Greg Abbott to send migrants to Washington, D.C., Martha’s Vineyard and other Democratic bastions without any advance notice, calling their actions “cruel” and “shameful” political stunts.
Newsom said no state had a bigger stake in comprehensive immigration reform than California, whose technology and agriculture industries both rely heavily on immigrants. And he praised Reagan, the former Republican California governor turned president, for passing immigration reform in the 1980s, contrasting it with what he considers Republican intransigence on the issue today.
“Ronald Reagan said some of the most deeply thoughtful, and I think spiritual, things that anyone’s said about immigration,” Newsom said. “What the hell’s happened to the Republican Party?”
He touted Biden’s immigration proposals, including fast-tracking citizenship for “dreamers” who were born abroad but grew up in the US. “The frustration I have is Joe Biden put out a great plan,” he said. “But we’re not talking about it, not promoting it.”
Newsom also said the repeated threat of blackouts in California wouldn’t cause the state to delay its transition away from fossil fuels.
California narrowly averted power outages this month during a record heat wave, as supplies grew strained on hot evenings after solar power plants stopped producing for the day. He pointed to the deadly blackouts last year in gas-reliant Texas, and said that California was moving quickly to protect its grid with batteries, while trying to extend the life of its last nuclear plant as insurance against outages. Fighting climate change, he said, does not require sacrificing energy security.
“We were challenged, but we kept our wits, and we’re keeping our agenda,” said Newsom, the overwhelming favorite to win a second term in the deeply blue state in November. “So no, I don’t think you have to sacrifice one for the other. I would argue that not transitioning is the bigger risk.”
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