The ex-boyfriend of Sheriff Paul Babeu may actually be in the country illegally, despite what both he and Babeu have told the press. Babeu has denied threatening to have his former boyfriend deported.
Orozco appeared on CNN this week, and the network said he told them he was in Arizona on a “10-year, US tourist visa that allows multiple crossings at the border.” But as the Arizona Daily Star first noted, US tourist visas generally allow foreign visitors to be in the country for no more than six months at a time. The visas may not expire for a decade, but that doesn’t mean the person is allowed to stay in the United States for more than half a year at a time. That could be problematic for Orozco, who previously told the Phoenix New Times that he began dating the sheriff in 2006. And it could be equally troublesome for Babeu, who told CNN that he and the man dated for three years. Prominent immigration attorney David Leopold, who has practiced in Ohio for about 20 years, told TPM that it’s highly unlikely that immigration authorities would have allowed Orozco to stay in the United States with a tourist visa for three to six years.
It’s possible that Babeu could be charged with harboring an undocumented immigrant, especially given his position in law enforcement.
Most of the time, authorities wouldn’t prosecute the boyfriend or girlfriend of someone who has problems with his or her immigration status. But in this case, Babeu is in a position of law enforcement, someone trained to know better. Moreover, he has made a career out of being a hardliner on the subject. A prosecutor and judge would likely hold the sheriff to a higher standard, Leopold said. “I think the sheriff’s got a problem if that’s what was going on. He’s got a big problem,” Leopold said. “If they indicted him and charged him, there might be some meat to it.” It’s possible that Babeu could say that the subject never came up or that he was fooled by his ex-boyfriend. But even that might be a hard sell, given Babeu’s expertise on immigration matters and his role as an investigator.