As many as 20 million undocumented immigrants will qualify for President Barack Obama's deferred deportation action, says Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona.
The number would be an alarming increase from the estimated 5 million
initially expected to qualify under the executive action.
But in a Monday interview on Fox News'
"Your World With Neil Cavuto," Babeu contended that the new figure came directly from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Story continues below video.
The interview was also posted by Breitbart TV
"The fact is, it's not just the 5 million that President Obama promised, we learned that Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, put out a six-page memo and he said that anybody who's been here since January of this year, anybody prior to that date, they are allowed to stay here. There will be deferred action," Babeu told Cavuto.
"This number that President Obama promised would be 5 million is now 20 million illegals."
Asked to clarify how he knows the number jumped to 20 million, Babeu insisted it was straight from Johnson.
"President Obama said on TV, 'if you've been here five years or more, there will be deferred action, that you'll be given a work permit, a driver's license, all access to our social programs,'" Babeu explained.
"But Jeh Johnson, the very same day, put out a memo directed to all 23 agencies under the Department of Homeland Security saying that any illegal who's been here this year as of January of 2014, they are entitled to this deferred action."
Babeu said that interpretation would surely mean the situation for states along the nation's southern border "is going to get worse"
"It sends the wrong message," he said. "It's a big neon sign flashing … that make it to the border and you're home free."
The outspoken sheriff is the subject of speculation in Arizona that he may have congressional aspirations in 2016, according to the Arizona Republic
, which notes the Republican has already filed his first contribution reports for a federal political action committee.
"Turn on Fox News and there he is, ripping President Barack Obama on immigration and tearing into Washington for its failure to secure the border with Mexico," political consultant David Leibowitz told the Republic. "Babeu is relentless on that issue — a poor man's [Sheriff] Joe Arpaio — and immigration is likely to remain a top-tier issue come the next election cycle."
Constantin Querard, another political consultant, said Babeu already has good name recognition around Arizona and noted that his "favorability numbers were last measured at 54 percent statewide and nearly 80 percent in Pinal County, and he is a proven fundraiser who could likely raise millions more than previous GOP nominees."
"So long as the Obama administration continues to pursue open-border, pro-amnesty policies, candidates who are demonstrably strong on border issues will do very well in border states like Arizona," Querard told the Republic.
"Since Obama's march towards amnesty shows no signs of slowing, that bodes well for potential candidates like Sheriff Paul Babeu, in 2016 and beyond."
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