Does Sheriff Babeu Really Support Legal Immigration?

November 18, 2011 1:30 pm ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Sheriff Paul Babeu

Recently, Arizona sheriff-turned-potential-congressional-candidate Paul Babeu penned a fundraising blog post asking for donations to support him in the wake of a Media Matters for America report regarding Babeu's numerous appearances on Fox. In the letter, Babeu took issue with Media Matters' characterization of him as "anti-immigrant," claiming:

I support legal immigration.  But I oppose illegal immigration, because I've taken an oath to uphold and defend our laws and our Constitution.  I know it's a novel concept for the left, but I'm in law enforcement—that means all of the laws, not just the ones Obama and his cronies decide to enforce on any given day.

However, Babeu has associated himself with several xenophobic and racist organizations. In July 2010, he appeared on the "pro-white" radio show Political Cesspool, which is hosted by white nationalist James Edwards. Although Babeu claimed he was unaware of the program's beliefs before going on, Political Cesspool issued a statement saying Babeu was both aware of its ideology and that it had even had one of the hosts speak directly with Babeu "a week in advance of the interview" to ensure there was no confusion. In addition, a day before his Cesspool appearance, Babeu appeared on 9/11 truther Alex Jones' talk show, where he accused President Obama of immigration policies that border on "high treason."

While these appearances hint at anti-immigrant beliefs, it is Babeu's association with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) that solidifies his anti-immigrant bona fides. FAIR, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, "is a group with one mission: to severely limit immigration to the United States." Recently, FAIR has aired ads advocating for the reduction of legal immigration levels, and has even designated a section of its website to explaining why America needs less legal immigration.

This year, Babeu was featured as the keynote speaker at a FAIR "Hold Their Feet To The Fire" reception. As FAIR Communications Director Bob Dane explained, the "Hold Their Feet To The Fire" conference is held annually to "advance positive reforms that relieve many of the burdens that mass immigration — legal and illegal — imposes on the American people." Characterized by FAIR as one of the "rising stars in the immigration policy debate," Babeu "was a favorite guest of the talk radio hosts" at the reception, and he came back at FAIR's request to speak at their October 2011 advisory conference.

Babeu can continue to claim he supports legal immigration, but until he denounces white nationalist, conspiracy theorist, and anti-immigrant organizations it'll be tough to believe what he says.