Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has made national headlines in the past week for allegedly threatning to deport his former Mexican boyfriend. But for those who follow immigration issues closely, Babeu was already on their radar for a history of having a tough stance on immigration issues.

Babeu stepped down on Saturday from his position as Arizona co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to focus on the controversy and his election campaign for Congress.

“Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu – who became the face of Arizona border security nationally after he started stridently opposing illegal immigration – threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship,” the former boyfriend and his lawyer told the Phoenix New Times.

“The thing is is that Babeu was not just Mitt Romney’s Arizona Co-Chair, he was also an immigration restrictionist hardliner in the mold of disgraced Arizona sheriffs like Maricopa County’s Joe Arpaio. He was a big time supporter of SB 1070 and appeared in the now-notorious John McCain election ad calling for “the danged fence” to get built already,” said Julianne Hing,’s immigration reporter. 

“Babeu matters because he’s been meticulously grooming himself for the national stage by following the blueprint left by other right-wing Arizona politicians who’ve made a name for themselves by vilifying Latinos and calling for more policing of immigrant communities and further militarization of the border,” Hing went on to say.