In a new interview on CNN today, the ex-lover of Sheriff Paul Babeu said he is in the country on a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa.
That sheds some light on the question of whether "Jose" is in the country illegally, a key detail in the story published Friday by the Phoenix New Times. In that story, the ex-lover, referred to only by the first name Jose, said Babeu's attorney threatened him with deportation if he did not promise to keep quiet about their relationship.
Tucson immigration attorney Mo Goldman explained to me that no 10-year visa would permit a visaholder to stay in the country longer than six months at a time.
A border-crossing card is valid for 10 years but permits a holder to stay in the country only up to 30 days. The holder must remain in the border zone, which does not stretch as far north Phoenix, Goldman said.
If the person fills out an I-94 form and is permitted into the country with a 10-year tourist visa, the holder can stay up to six months at a time but then must return to their country of origin. Neither visa permits the holder to work while in the country.
There is a way for a person to extend his stay beyond six months, but even that extension only allows six additional months, Goldman said.
Jose said he and Babeu were together for three years, and the New Times story says he worked in the United States.
Jose's attorney, Melissa Weiss-Riner, told me today that her understanding is that her client is in the country legally and that he knows he is supposed return periodically to Mexico.
Babeu, in a later interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, said his understanding about Jose is "He's legal."
Chris DeRose, Babeu's attorney, said Jose was not a paid employee of the Babeu campaign. His work was voluntary. In fact, even now only DeRose works for the campaign, and he is a consultant, DeRose said.
When they hire permanent staff, DeRose said in an email they will use the E-Verify system that checks an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States.
In his three years as sheriff, Babeu has become a prominent critic of the Obama administration on border issues and illegal immigration. He has been a fierce defender of SB 1070, the law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court that would require Arizona police officers to check the immigration status of people they encounter whom they suspect are in the country illegally.