LA Times columnist George Skelton recently criticized Gov. Newsom for planning a trip to El Salvador April 7. Skelton said Newsom should stay in California and focus on California problems.

That was a cheap shot, and many in Sacramento piled on. But Newsom is doing the right thing in going. Because, in this peculiar moment, the problems of California are connected to migration issues in the Americas—and President Trump’s ignorant and bigoted delusions about them.

Here are three reasons why the governor is right to spend a few days in Central America.

HE’S DEFENDING CALIFORNIA. President Trump has attacked California on false pretenses on multiple fronts—health care, elections the environment, fires, the census—but all those attacks have a nexus with the heart of Trump’s war against California: migration. Californians aren’t buying the various lies and delusions feeding Trump’s policies, and we’re doing what we can to defend immigrants and asylum seekers whose rights the president is violating.

Many of those migrants are from Central America. And if Trump is going to slander and punish all Californians (denying us emergency funds, undermining our health care, accusing us of election fraud, and making the census a political tool) because of our unwillingness to support the president’s outrageous treatment of them, the governor needs to defend those migrants if he’s going to defend us Californians. His trip should point out why people are leaving Central America—the conditions in the country—not because of California’s pro-migrant policies. He’ll also point out that if the president were interested in reducing migration – instead of slurring California and migrants—he’d be working to improve life in those countries, not cutting aid.

California also has hundreds of thousands of people of Salvadoran ancestry who are longstanding residents, but whose legal status is in jeopardy because of Trump policies. Defending them—and the members of their families who are American citizens—should be a fundamental priority of any governor. Newsom must stand for these California families.

CORRECTING THE RECORD. The attacks on Newsom’s trip come as the president is threatening to close the American border—essentially ports of entry. That would be devastating to California and to the American economy.

Since such a policy is based on the false premise of a border crisis—the only crisis is Trump’s own policy—Newsom’s trip provides an opportunity to correct the record, and expose the president’s falsehoods. The governor also should attract press coverage that serves his purposes (as long as that coverage is not offered via thoughtless columns).

LEARNING. It’s routine to treat foreign travel by regional or state leaders like Newsom as somehow suspect. Shouldn’t those folks remain at home?

No. Our leaders should get out and see the world and try to learn as much as possible. (So should we as citizens).

The best reason for a governor to go to a place like El Salvador is not what he already knows about the situation there. It’s what he doesn’t yet know. He’ll see things and hear things that get him thinking not just about the problems of migration, but perhaps about violence, trade, crime-fighting, or poverty. There is nothing like seeing challenges in another context to alter your thinking.

Maybe Skelton and some of the governor’s other critics should go to El Salvador too.