Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., defends publishing the location
where a group of illegal immigrant children from Central America were to be housed.
Appearing Tuesday on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360,"
Babeu said he was concerned that some of the children may have been older teenagers with gang connections or some may have had diseases that would have threatened the health and safety of nearby residents.
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According to the Tucson Sentinel
, a tip from Babeu to a local activist sparked a protest, similar to the one last week in Murrieta, Calif., and the buses never arrived. The 40-60 children were set to be housed at a ranch for troubled minors near Oracle, Ariz., about 100 miles north of the Mexican border.
Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded across the border from Central America in the hope they will be allowed to stay.
Democrats blame the problem on a 2008 law with bipartisan support and signed by President George W. Bush that allowed for children from non-border countries to get hearings rather than be sent immediately back to their home countries.
Republicans say President Barack Obama caused the problem when he signed an executive order that allowed for certain illegal immigrants who came as children to remain.
Babeu, a critic of Obama's immigration policy, said he is unhappy that he wasn't told by the federal government about the plans. Instead, he said, he learned of the move from whistleblowers and confirmed the information with the facility.
The people of Oracle, he said, have a right to know for the sake of transparency, but also for "significant public safety and potentially a public health issue."
He told Cooper he would rather err on the side of safety than secrecy.
"My question to Homeland Security was, give us a sense of the profile of these individuals," Babeu said. "I and my deputies have our hands full . . . My county geographically is larger than the state of Connecticut. We don't have enough deputies to carry out all of our duties."
Cooper pressed Babeu on whether he was being political in releasing the information because he disagrees with Obama on immigration policy.
The sheriff said his deputies arrest illegal immigrants every day who freely admit they've been deported up to 15 times.
"There really, truly are no consequences," Babeu said. "This is a gaping wide hole . . . Is there no end to this?"
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